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Ken Borland


Parnell a cautionary tale for Rabada

Posted on March 02, 2015 by Ken

There was a time when Wayne Parnell was one of the hottest prospects on the planet, dominating the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2008 alongside the likes of Virat Kohli, Tim Southee and Ravindra Jadeja, who are all now world stars of the international game.

New Australian captain Steven Smith (as well as the late Phillip Hughes), Kane Williamson, Ahmed Shehzad, Junaid Khan, Umar Akmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Darren Bravo were all part of that tournament as well.

That Parnell is an extravagantly gifted cricketer is not in doubt, nor that he can be a tricky customer to manage at times, but it is also clear that the 25-year-old has certainly not fulfilled his talent.

And I strongly believe that that has not all been his own fault; young cricketers need to be treated with care, no matter how talented they are.

Parnell was thrown into senior international cricket as a 19-year-old in January 2009, in Australia, just 10 months after that junior world cup. Although some initial performances were encouraging, like all inexperienced players he struggled for consistency and began to be chosen in squads without earning a regular place in the starting XI.

All that touring, without actually playing much, took its toll and Parnell became more inconsistent. He was never free to learn his trade at first-class or franchise level; eight years after making his first-class debut, he is finally playing his 50th match this weekend for the Warriors (and doing rather well). By way of comparison, Parnell’s 2008 team-mates, Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks, have played 73 and 85 first-class matches respectively and their stars are definitely on the rise, while his is waning. Southee has played 37 Tests and claimed 128 wickets, Parnell has just seven wickets in four Tests.

Parnell for me is a cautionary tale when it comes to the treatment of South Africa’s latest junior world cup sensation – Kagiso Rabada.

I was delighted that Rabada was released from the national squad playing in the first Test against the West Indies to go and play a Sunfoil Series four-day game for the Highveld Lions.

As good as it is for Rabada to be bowling in the nets and soaking up the ProteaFire atmosphere, I would beseech the national selectors to please allow this wonderful young talent to grow the foundation in the game that Parnell missed out on.

Through playing and learning at that level, against various types of batsmen, in different conditions, Rabada will know his game when he finally steps up to play Test cricket.

He can recycle the knowledge he will gain in the Lions set-up from such experienced cricketers as Neil McKenzie, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Stephen Cook.

It is not too late, of course, for Parnell to fulfil his potential and he might even one day open the bowling in a Test with Rabada. But like good wine, great cricketers are not rushed, they are developed and matured.

I would also have preferred seeing Temba Bavuma return to the Lions side and get some time in the middle, hopefully adding to the 90 runs he has scored in four Sunfoil Series innings this season.

In regards to that, national coach Russell Domingo said “the media would be all over us if a makeshift 12th man dropped a catch”, which seems a bit harsh on Robin Peterson!

As things worked out, both Bavuma and Peterson were required in the field, but hopefully the young batsman will be able to get some proper runs under his belt before what seems an inevitable call-up for him too.

 

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