Sports Wrap: Test cricket lives, storm gathering over Fleck, Nedbank Cup magic
EWN Sport's Carl Lewis takes a look at the biggest talking points from the weekend's sports action.
CAPE TOWN - EWN Sport's Carl Lewis takes a look at the biggest talking points from the weekend's sports action. He discusses Sri Lanka's outrageous one-wicket win in Durban, Robbie Fleck's position at the Stormers, the Nedbank Cup's place in local football and Andile Phehlukwayo's continued progression.
SRI LANKA AND TEST CRICKET NEEDED THAT
The final day at Kingsmead was one of those quintessentially "beautiful days" of Test cricket, the kind of day that allows traditional Test cricket patrons a chance to say "I told you so" to the new breed of T20 upstarts.
Kusal Perera's historic and match-winning knock (153*) against the Proteas kept the cricket world's attention firmly focused on Durban on the final day of the first Test.
Before the tour, the Sri Lankans wilted in the Australian heat, losing a Test series 2-0. Coming up against South Africa, who have a proud home record under skipper Faf du Plessis, this should have been a routine win for the local side.
And at 110/5, chasing 309, you would be forgiven for thinking that it would be another customary win for Proteas. Even at 225/9, it took an exceptional partnership between Kusal Perera and Vishwa Fernando, who combined for the highest 10th-wicket stand in a successful Test chase.
Too often in Test cricket, the home team is expected to run away with proceedings as the touring side grapples with foreign conditions.
However, Sri Lanka broke that mold and hopefully injected some new belief into the beleaguered Sri Lankan cricket system which has been hit by many body-blows on and off the field. Test cricket needs "smaller" nations to upset the game's power brokers much like the Windies did to England recently.
The result has been celebrated the world over and will hopefully be used as a symbol for the importance of Test cricket.
FLECK WILL BE FEELING THE PRESSURE NOW
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said last Thursday that he felt no stress ahead of their Super Rugby opener against the Bulls.
His exact words were: "To be honest, there's no pressure on my shoulders this year, this is the last year of my contract which ends on 31 October, that's the way I see it. All the coaches are going to coach with freedom this year and regardless of what happens, we're going to give as much energy and input to our players so that they can perform every weekend.
"If I perform well or the team performs well, then that means I'm performing well."
After their 40-3 thumping at Loftus Versfeld at the hands of an invigorated Bulls outfit, his position on "pressure" will surely change as his reputation as a young coach comes under scrutiny.
Fleck and his coaching staff have been adamant that this is the season they should be judged on, and it could not have got off to a worse start.
Fleck might be leaving his post at the end of the campaign but he will no doubt have personal and professional pride. He was a Springbok himself, once scoring a brace against the All Blacks in 2000, so the Stormers' concerning start to 2019 won't sit well with him whether he verbalises it or not.
His tenure has been underwhelming since succeeding Eddie Jones despite the Cape side housing a number of Springboks and gifted youngsters. In his first season (2016), the Cape side was knocked out at Newlands against the Chiefs in the final eight and that fate was repeated in 2017 - last year they finished 11th on the overall log, failing to make the playoffs.
Injuries and off-field drama have not been kind to Fleck over the years but the extended run of ordinary results can't be ignored, whichever way you choose to look at it.
The Stormers face South Africa's strongest franchise next Saturday (Lions), at least they will have some home comforts at Newlands.
NEDBANK CUP AN ESSENTIAL CUP IN SA FOOTBALL
Kaizer Chiefs (2013) and possibly Wits (2010) are the only clubs left in the Nedbank Cup draw who have won the competition in recent history.
Although only two non-Absa Premiership clubs (Cape Umoya FC and TS Galaxy) remain in the draw, there are still a number of "outsiders" vying for cup glory in South Africa's version of the FA Cup.
The Nedbank Cup's importance in bridging the gap between divisions and providing National First Division (NFD) and ABC Motsepe clubs something to look forward to and strive towards cannot be underestimated.
Cape Town's The Magic FC won plaudits for their gutsy display against Amakhosi on Sunday, as Chiefs needed extra-time before putting the tired legs of the ABC Motsepe club away.
Despite an eventual loss, The Magic FC players will take a lot out of the experience of playing in front of such a big crowd, they also get the opportunity of putting themselves in the shop window in search of a bigger club.
We gave everything! Well done Kaizer Chiefs - it’s ok to admit you got a fright!! And we left our dressing room spotless. Respect the game. And work hard! #Believe— TheMagicFC (@TheMagicFC) February 17, 2019
PHEHLUKWAYO DEVELOPING INTO A FINE ALL-ROUND CRICKETER
Andile Phehlukwayo rarely seems to shirk a tense situation, whether it be with bat or ball. He has proven himself to be a shrewd "finisher" for the national team and he has proven his worth once again, this time for Dolphins in their 12-run win in the Momentum One-Day Cup match against the Titans.
Phehlukwayo scored 69 off 61 balls (5 fours, 3 sixes) in the first innings. He followed that up with an astute bowling performance in the Titans' chase of their 309 run target.
The skillful bowler ended with figures of 0/45 in 10 overs, noteworthy was his concession of just three boundaries in his allotted overs.
There still seems to be some doubt as to whether he can bat at seven for the Proteas' World Cup mission in England later this year. However, the allrounder always seems to prove his doubters wrong at some stage, whether it be with bat or the ball.
Another positive for the Proteas was the performance of Lungi Ngidi, the strapping fast bowler looks to be recovering from injury pretty well as he excelled in another encouraging bowling shift for the Titans, ending with figures of 4/47 in 10 overs.
Proteas in action in today's #MODC.— LocalCricketZA (@LocalCricketZA) February 17, 2019
Phehlukwayo: 69(61) & 10-0-45-0
Morris: 3(5) & 10-0-71-0#ProteaFire#SSCricket