What was once labeled the Super 6, then became the Super 8 and then the Super 10,12,14 now is just termed Super Rugby to avoid further name changes with further permutations. Newcomers the Rebels are struggling as would have been expected while the adroit seven times champs the Crusaders were looking invincible until the always-promising Highlanders brought their peerless run to a halt while the Blue Bulls of South Africa who have been hogging the trophy for the past two years aren’t on song yet. One still wonders if the Cheetahs will get their maiden overseas victory having come so close with a draw to the Chiefs last year.
It’s a World Cup year and seems some of the Springbok seniors aren’t in gear yet where as The All Blacks are firm favourites seem turbo-charged. “The idea is always to pick at the right time” to paraphrase Springbok coach Peter De Villiers who didn’t seem that worried about the current slump of form. Whether New Zealand will have burn out or not is another factor but the way things are at the moment leaves quite a lot to be desired for South African rugby fans. South African team schedules are quite favourable this year as there is less itinerary activity and this should galvanise teams such as the Lions and Cheetahs to try salvage better rankings while the Stormers will be trying to do one ranking better than being runners-up.
Speaking about runners-up, Orlando Pirates would be quite despondent if they found themselves concomitant with anything but the Absa Premiership come the end of the season as they have been the pace setters throughout the season. The conclusion is quite nigh and they need to get their ducks in a row and avoid any upsets because the auspicious Ajax Cape Town seem just as ravenous as Pirates for what would be their maiden league title. At the opposite end of the table we know Aces will not be in the league next season while Vasco Da Gama will likely end up on 15th position which next season will be automatic relegation which is what fans have always been asking for. While teams are chasing the title players will also be seeking individual rewards come the end of the season and the likes of Thulani Serero and Knowledge Musona are in the running.
Ever heard of four EL-Classico matches in 18 days? Well Jose Mourinho will have been pleased that his Real Madrid had the better of Catalans in the Kings Cup a trophy which was clumsily dropped by Sergio Ramos as Madrid were parading with it. We wait for the Champions League 2nd clash with bated breaths to see who will face Man United in the finals cause Raul Gonzalez and his Schalke couldn’t possibly cause another upset against the Red Devils but Mourinho will have a mountain to climb after suffering a 2-0 loss.
As curtains closed on the Proteas aspirations against a very insipid and under -estimated New Zealand team in a low scoring game well history repeated itself and the term the chokers resurfaced and the blame game was in orbit as the Proteas vacillate between being world beaters and being inept once again. The Aussie dictatorship of the World Cup came to a halt to the same team who won it. The Indians were navigated to victory by a courageous captains knock from MS Dhoni who had promoted himself on the day.
Since then we have had how the world cricket top brass have decided that the next installment of the World Cup will have 10 teams at the expense of some of the incompetent minnows we have come to see in the World Cups of yester years. Paucity of good cricket nations has given the cricket fans the likes of United Arab Emirates, Canada, Netherlands,Ireland and Bermuda a chance to strut their stuff in the tournament. Over the years though all they have contributed to the game are records and highest scores e.g Gary Kirtsen’s 188* against UAE at Rawlpindi in 1996 and Van Bunge’s demolition at the hands of Herschelle Gibbs in 2007 of six 6’s.However one has to commend Ireland for making the Super 8 in 2007 and Kevin O’Brien for having the fastest hundred in World Cup cricket. A ten team World Cup won’t really bring that much more excitement as much as it will just shorten the process. Times could be quite ominous for Kenya, Bangladesh, West Indies & Ziimbabwe don’t pull their socks up they will be the whipping boys cause they too haven’t given much entertainment of late.
The scrapping of the Super 8 certainly made for a dull campaign, the Super 8 or a prospective Super 6 is probably the biggest way to give excitement to the biggest tournament in the game of cricket as exciting as possible when you get the best teams head to head and then eventually the semis and finals. Pat Symcox’s iconoclastic views of disbanding of a team that has brought so much excitement to the game is pouring water on a drowning man as not only West Indies is ailing but the game is not as exciting as it was and how much more pedestrian would cricket be with no West Indies but Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago or the likes