While injuries continue to hamper their on-field prospects, Faf du Plessis and Co should expect reinforcements off the field. They might be a couple of matches late, but the Gwijo Squad — South Africa’s answer to the Barmy Army — assembled at the Cape Town airport and recorded a message, assuring their presence in the stands for the team’s all-important match against India: “We are ready, @OfficialCSA! Bags are packed. Passports have been renewed! Voices are warmed up. We are ready! Let amagwijo lift the spirits of the lads in the land of fish and chips,” tweeted the group on Sunday, as fans pleaded “The boys need you guys without a doubt,” and “Please go HELP!” in the comments.
The group started out as a boisterous presence at the national rugby team Springboks’ games to celebrate Siya Kolisi’s appointment as the first black Bok skipper, and the increased diversity in the Protean line-up brought them to the cricket ground, where they are often seen serenading Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. While Indian fans are expected to dominate the battle of decibels at Southampton, keep an ear out for rhythmic cultural hymns or amagwijo, long a staple of Xhosa culture.
Blessed by Zulu King
The captains at the cricket World Cup may have met the Queen earlier this week, but South African cricketers arrived in England having rubbed shoulders with royalty. Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu hosted Hashim Amla, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Andile Phehlukwayo last month as the quartet became the first cricketers to visit the monarch and receive royal blessings. “Cricket has often been looked down on in the black communities but we have Hashim, Kagiso, Lungi and Andile here and that has given me hope that we are on the right path,” said Zwelithini — the longest-serving king and monarch of the Zulu nation with a 48-year rule. More than ever before, there’s an equitable representation of race, language and culture in the South Africa cricket team, a melting pot featuring White Afrikaans-speakers, White English-speakers, South Africans of Indian descent, Coloured and Xhosa-speaking black African.
Doosra threat for Kohli
While Virat Kohli will come out adequately psyched for his ‘man-on – man’ confrontation with Kagiso Rabada while trying to prove how “mature” he is, the South Africans might sneak up one slowly through their spin twins. Sacricketmag.com noted that the Indian captain was surprisingly, vulnerable to spin. “In ODI cricket he has lost his wicket four times to Suraj Randiv, four times to Graeme Swann.
And in Tests, Nathan Lyon has claimed Kohli’s wicket seven times, more than any other player. Tahir could play a key role in targeting the India captain, or perhaps by Aiden Markram, who has had some success at the Rose Bowl recently with his bowling,” the news site said. They were not unaware of the bigger picture though. “He has a good record against South Africa, however. In 26 matches he’s averaged 66.78, which includes his second-highest score of 160 not out,” they wrote.
Palmolive ka… Wahab nahi
During last year’s Pakistan Super League, fast bowler Wahab Riaz sported a Mitchell Johnson-type of moustache. The pacer admitted he was inspired by the Australian who sent shivers down the spine of the Englishmen with his bouncers from hell. But coming from a fast bowler in his early 30s and one who had gone off the boil, Riaz was the butt of jokes on social media.
“Gareebon ka Mitchel Johnson, Wahab Riaz reveals his looks for tonight’s game,” is what one fan said. “Yeh fashionable mooche nahi hai, this is a sign of motivation for me. It reminds me of my character, I am a fast bowler… quick fast bowler and I have to always go with it and that is what my priority is… to bowl fast and furious,” Riaz told Rameez Raza during a chat ahead of the PSL game. That handlebar-horseshoe hybrid moustache (facial hair style imitation is not always the best form of flattery) has been binned by Riaz and on Sunday, he had a regular stubble. After being out of the ODI team for nearly two years but recalled for the World Cup, Riaz in one spell turned a balanced game on its head against England. A slower bouncer followed by a faster one got rid of Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes in consecutive balls. One advice to Riaz: Maybe Rameez should tell him. ‘Don’t go to a barber shop during the world cup’.