Revealed: South Africa’s cunning top-secret plan


A cricket quiz to begin the post today.

Trivia Question 1: Connect the following : Waqar Younis (Pak) Neil Williams (Eng) Paul Reiffel (Aus) Ujesh Ranchod(Zim) Ruwan Kalpage (SL) Mark Ealham (Eng) Franklyn Rose (WI) Adam Dale (Aus) Neil Johnson (Zim) Naimur Rahman (Bang) Jermaine Lawson (WI) Jacob Oram(NZ) Nathan Hauritz (Aus) Monty Panesar (Eng) Paul Harris (SA) Dammika Prasad (SL) Cameron White (Aus) Peter Siddle (Aus) Peter George (Aus) ?

Answer: They are all debutants who have dismissed Sachin Tendulkar.

Trivia Question 2: When was the last time that Sachin played an ODI match and what happened in the match ?

Answer: Surprisingly, the last ODI match Sachin played was in Gwalior on 24th February 2010. Yes, he has not played any ODI  since that day almost a year ago. As for what happened in that match, it was the day they couldn’t get him out at all. South Africa huffed and puffed and swung and spun but just could not get Sachin out that day.  It was something that Graeme Smith must have nightmares about to this day – a batsman getting 200 not out in a 50 over match against his bowlers – allegedly the best in the world. It was the day after which kids (especially budding bowlers) in south africa are afraid to whisper the name “Sachin” and refer to him only as “he-who-could-not-be-dismissed (henceforth referred to HWCNBD)”.

Trivia Question Number 3: If you are Graeme Smith and you were reading Ken’s pen today, what would you do tomorrow ? What secret plan are you hatching for the Indian maestro in Kingsmead tomorrow ? Read on to find out.

The cunning top-secret plan

Well, it’s simple. You analyze the data from the Trivia Questions and contrast the numbers.  On one hand, relatively few number of balls bowled by debutant bowlers in cricket (Very approximate working: Assuming 1 debutant bowler in 20 matches  means a debutant approximately bowls about 1% of all deliveries in cricket – assuming five bowlers are used equally (hence 1/20th of 20%)  in a match ) and on the other hand, the high number of debutants who have succeeded against he-who-could-not-be-dismissed (approximately 5% of his dismissals are to debutant bowlers). Hence, getting a debutant into your team makes it about 500% likelier that you will dismiss HWCNBD. Thats the maths.

And then, much like Douglas Jardine summoning Larwood, you act. You make a secret plan to take on the worlds greatest ever ODI batsman (interesting how adding “ODI” before “batsman” makes that statement utterly uncontestable). The answer is simple, go with all debutant bowlers. You take this ingenious solution to your selectors and they tell you that there are problems with the plan. One of the problems is called Yuvraj, the other is called Raina. They must be planned for too. Hence Dale Steyn must play, Morne Morkel must play – for without them Yuvraj and Raina transform into human rocket launchers and start sending leather balls into geo-synchronous orbit. So not more than 2 debutants they say.HWCNBD is about 40% or so of the Indian batting and so 2 out of 5 bowlers should be debutants they say. Except one little thing, there aren’t any good South Africans that are available. There was this guy called Tsotsobe but he’s got Sachin already in the first test and so is no longer a factor. Major problem.

Inventory check: An imported candidate and another who ran away

The only two candidates that are available in the land are the following. The first is a 31 year old pakistani dude with blonde hair called Imran Tahir who is married to a pretty proteas and has played for 10 teams in 4 continents during his journeyman career to-date. The other is a 26 year old south african dude called – wait for it  – Faf Du Plessis (I kid you not) who actually gave up his south african citizenship under something called a Kolpak deal and played County cricket. So, what do you do ? How do you get these two worthy debutants to join forces and help your team against HWCNBD.

First, you go to Faf Du Plessis and convince him to return to his homeland. Even though it is probable that you might never play for South Africa again after this series. But a good performance against India could get him an IPL contract for Shilpa Shettys team. Or a hug from Preity Zinta. That does it. He is in. Faf du Plessis taken care of. You hope he does his job now.

As for Imran Tahir, you go to the president, convince him that this dude really loves his girl and that you really love this dude (or at least his bowling). You plead with Mr. President to get him citizenship 10 days before the ODI series begins. The pleading and the presidential love for cricket works. Just in time. Presto, your secret plan is in place.

Oh, there is still one problem, they’re both right-arm-leg spinners and leg-spin went out of fashion from ODI cricket since the day that Sachin oops sorry HWCNBD destroyed the careers of Mushtaq and Qadir in his debut series sometime in the ’80s. And South Africa hasn’t played a right arm leg-spinner since the timeless tests of 1924. Sigh! Oh well. Can’t get everything. Will go with Imran Tahir and Faf du Plessis and see how it goes.

Trivia 4: When was Imran Tahir given  citizenship of South Africa.

Answer: On Jan 1st, 2011 – exactly 10 days before the first ODI against India.

Trivia Question 5: Boring general knowledge at the very end: What is a Kolpak deal ?

Answer: The Kolpak ruling is named after a Slovakian handball player, who said that he should be able to play in Germany as a non-overseas player, because Slovakia had an associate trading agreement with the European Union (EU). The case went to the European courts, and they ruled in his favour. This ruling meant that anyone from a country with an associate trading agreement with an EU country can have the same employment rights as anyone from the EU.

For English cricket, the Kolpak ruling applies to players from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Jamacia, as well as several non-test countries. The players will not be eligible to play for England, but can play county cricket if they sign a document saying that they hae no intention of playing for their country again.

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