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Zaahier Adams: The highs and lows of the 2020 sporting year

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IOL SPORT senior cricket writer Zaahier Adams looks back at some of the sporting moments, good and bad, that stood out for him in 2020.

Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

IOL SPORT senior cricket writer Zaahier Adams looks back at some of the sporting moments, good and bad, that stood out for him in 2020.

THE GOOD

It’s actually a bitter-sweet moment with the Proteas Women’s team’s performance at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia the undoubted highlight of the year. Dané van Niekerk’s team fell just five runs short of defeating eventual champions and hosts Australia in the rain-marred semi-final in Sydney.

It was an epic contest punctuated by the class of Laura Wolvaardt and the burning energy of fellow youngster Nadine de Klerk.

The tears which flowed freely after the game were reminiscent of the men’s team’s semi-final defeat at the 2015 World Cup in Auckland.

And just like back then, the Rainbow Nation cried with Van Niekerk’s team to exemplify just how much women’s cricket has grown in the country.

Zaahier Adams in conversation with cricketer Laura Wolvaardt following her exploits with the bat at the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia. Picture Courtney Africa, African News Agency (ANA)

THE BAD

England’s decision to postpone the ODI leg of their white-ball tour after the team suffered false postive Covid-19 tests in their bio-secure environment at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.

A view of the big screen at Boland Park after the first ODI between South Africa and England was abandoned. Picture: Shaun Roy, BackpagePix

It was later proved that both tests were actually negative.

While the players’ physical and mental health has to be safeguarded at all times, England had a responsibility to do their best to fulfil the full fixture list in South Africa, particularly after both the West Indies and Pakistan had travelled to the UK in their peak of the pandemic to save the English Cricket Board (ECB) millions of pounds.

THE UGLY

Cricket SA’s (CSA) ongoing administrative woes. The drawn out suspension and eventual dismissal of Thabang Moroe cost CSA millions of rand, while the secrecy surrounding the much-hyped Fundudzi Report led to unnecessary speculation. The intervention of government, initially through Sascoc and later by the Minster of Sport Nathi Mthethwa, that led to the interim board being put in place, has been embarrassing to say the least.

The drawn out suspension and eventual dismissal of Thabang Moroe cost Cricket South Africa millions of rand. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The latest suspensions of high-ranking administrators has furthermore placed the spotlight on the organisation for all the wrong reasons.

THE BIZARRE

The one thing Covid-19 has taught us is to expect the unexpected. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would arrive at an international game in bright sunshine only to be greeted by an empty venue before being told 30 minutes before the scheduled start that the game has been postponed. It was strange when it happened the first time at Newlands, but just down right weird when it occurred again two days later at Boland Park.

The Jesse Owens moment

The Black Lives Matter movement transcended into all aspects of society in 2020 and cricket was not exempted. BLM erupted here in South Africa with black former players and coaches sharing their painful experiences of systematic racism within the game.

However, it was in England where the biggest statements were made through emotional testimonies from legendary West Indies fast bowler Michael Holding and former England women’s cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent.

A big disappointment related to BLM was the Proteas’ failure to take a bended knee when they returned to the field after the lockdown break.

@ZaahierAdams