A week ago South Australia was just one wicket away from ensuring a sport in the Sheffield Shield final.
In the dying moments of that match at Adelaide Oval, they dropped a catch and their captain, Johan Botha scraped the ball on his spikes in full view of the umpire.
Botha was suspended and missed this week’s do-or-die match against Tasmania.
The Redbacks’ Shield hopes are now gone – for the 19th successive season – and there is a serious question mark over the captain and the management of South Australia’s flagship cricket side.
Redbacks coach Darren Berry was clearly frustrated with Botha.
“To not have him in game 10, to be honest, I’m angry with him,” said Berry.
“I’m disappointed in him and I’m disappointed in the system that has us not having Johan Botha in the final game.
“That’s a fact. We’ve gone into the most important game for South Australian cricket for a long time without our leader.”
The Redbacks’ hopes disappeared in Hobart yesterday under the swashbuckling bat of the player they sent packing three years ago, Mark Cosgrove – he scored 110 for his adopted state.
Elsewhere in the cricket world, ex-South Australian Ryan Harris is enjoying hero status after two successful series with the Test side, as is another unwanted South Aussie, Test coach Darren Lehmann.
The Redbacks’ current coach, Berry, is a Victorian and our captain is an import from South Africa.
Our best performed batsman, Tom Cooper, was also brought in from interstate.
South Australia’s cricket fans and supporters can rightfully ask the hard question of the game’s administrators: what’s the plan?
In Hobart, meanwhile, Berry is dealing with the sudden reality that all is lost thanks to another lacklustre performance by his side.
Chasing the game from early on in the first day when Jackson Bird ripped through their top order, the Redbacks trail by 295 runs on the first innings with two days to play after Tasmania raced to 8-507 at stumps on Wednesday.
“We pride ourselves on fight and earning respect and today Tasmania clearly outplayed us,” Berry said.
“I’m a pretty positive type of person and we’ll turn up tomorrow to give it our best shot, but let’s be realistic.
“Best-case scenario, they’re about 300 in front, it’s going to take most of the day to get back to even. You can do the maths.”
Berry has seen his side fail to capitalise on strong positions in their two most recent Shield matches and with the situation now well out of hand at Bellerive Oval, he is just about resigned to the Redbacks missing out on the season decider.
“When it was time to get the job done we’ve been outpointed,” he said.
“I offer no excuses for our inept batting display yesterday.
“We haven’t been able to deliver the knockout blow, so that is a concern for us.
“That’s what good sides do.”
For two decades, the South Australian cricket team hasn’t fitted that description.
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