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Ken Borland

Is everyone there on merit? One wonders … 0

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Ken


Cricket South Africa (CSA) has assured their stakeholders that selection for the national team will only be on merit and this week signed a new transformation agreement with Sascoc and the Department of Sports and Recreation in which they are apparently the only sporting code that has not agreed to quotas at the highest level.

CSA’s attitude is that the system must provide the national team with black players on merit, which is why they are aggressively pursuing quotas at domestic level.

It is also believed that CSA have met with the Proteas and have clarified with them that there was no interference in selection at the World Cup and that there won’t be targets in future.

But the squads announced for the tour of Bangladesh in July do make one wonder.

Reeza Hendricks and Aaron Phangiso have been picked for the Test squad, while Kagiso Rabada has leapfrogged Kyle Abbott in the fast-bowling pecking order.

I have the utmost respect as cricketers for them, but logic suggests the selectors were not looking at purely on-field performance in making these decisions.

Hendricks is undoubtedly a bright talent and I fully support him being involved in the limited-overs squads. But the figures show that Hendricks is not yet ready to be a Test opener. His first-class franchise batting average is just 34.55 with three centuries in 20 matches. Last season he averaged just 31.76, half what Highveld Lions opener Stephen Cook managed.

Cook has scored 10 centuries in the last two seasons, while Cobras opener Andrew Puttick has averaged 49.27 and 40.23 in the last two Sunfoil Series season. The fact that these two prolific batsman can’t make the side when an opening batsman is required and yet someone whose performances in the same competition are far inferior only adds fuel to the fire that is raging around selection for the national team.

The cynic in me believes that Phangiso’s selection for the Test squad is to make up for the appalling manner in which he was treated at the World Cup that saw him not play a single game.

Both Phangiso and Highveld Lions coach Geoff Toyana have gone on record as saying that the 31-year-old still needs a lot of work in the longer format and five wickets at an average of 67 in the Sunfoil Series shows that is the case.

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson said that they wanted a left-arm spinner for the squad and there is a ready-made, experienced, proven option in Robin Peterson.

As far as Rabada goes, I am certain that he will be a great fast bowler for South Africa in all formats, but what has Abbott done wrong?

Lady Luck always has her say when it comes to cricket, but Abbott has been one of the most unfortunate players in the country for a while now.

As a unit, the Proteas have been exceptionally strong in the Test arena, but the pain of the World Cup loss was all too obvious and whether CSA’s clearing-the-air session with the players was enough remains to be seen. They maintain that the only affirmative action when it comes to selection is if there is a 50/50 choice between two players, then the player of colour will get the benefit.

Was Hendricks being preferred to Cook really a 50/50 call? Phangiso over Peterson and Rabada ahead of Abbott?

A Bangladesh tour was never exactly looked forward to and this time the challenges will be even greater on the field. The Proteas will be asked tougher questions than ever before by Bangladesh on their home turf, while questions still swirl around their selection.


Markram finds his island of calm with Tukkies 0

Posted on April 17, 2014 by Ken

Aiden Markram has been crying out for an island of calm amidst all the hurly-burly and media attention of leading the South Africa U19 team to their Junior World Cup title last month in Dubai. And he seems to have found it judging by the assured, unbeaten half-century he scored to carry Assupol Tukkies to victory in the opening game of the Red Bull Campus Cricket finals against Steinhoff Maties on Tuesday.

The man of the match scored 50 not out off 45 balls as the University of Pretoria cruised to their moderate target of 119 with all of 11 deliveries remaining. Markram had the measure of the Stellenbosch University bowlers from the outset, hitting three fours in the first over of the innings, bowled by Boland cricketer Riyaad Henry.

But with the hardness of the new ball rapidly disappearing, he was content to just pick up mostly ones and twos on a slow autumnal pitch at the L.C. de Villiers Oval.

It was obvious that the powerful, tall right-hander is a young batsman who has learnt to play in different conditions, the pitches in the United Arab Emirates, where he was the Player of the Series with 370 runs at an astonishing average of 123, being similar to those in Pretoria at this time of year.

“The pitch was quite slow and it was hard to hit through the lines, you had to put the massive drives away,” Markram said after his impressive innings.

Markram was one of the hottest properties in South African cricket after the ICC U19 World Cup triumph, but he was content to stay in northern Gauteng, where he was born and where he schooled at Pretoria Boys’ High.

He believes that Tukkies, the national club champions and winners of the Northerns league for the last five years, will raise the bar when it comes to developing his game.

“I’m very happy here, the training is awesome, at very high intensity, and this is where my game will improve,” Markram says.

All the media attention and official engagements after their triumph in Dubai didn’t leave Markram with much leeway when it came to time to practise. SA U19 coach Ray Jennings likes to police his charges closely, but now Markram is no longer under his watch.

Fortunately, the Tukkies coach, Pierre de Bruyn, is a protégé of Jennings’ and the national junior coach has said before how confident he is that Markram’s game will develop even more at the University of Pretoria.

“I’m tired and the body’s a bit stiff, but I’m doing what I love and it’s never a mission to wake up in the morning and go and play cricket. It’s been hectic and for two weeks after the Junior World Cup I really struggled with the bat. But I’ve remembered not to complicate it and I’m happy with the start in this competition.

“We have nothing to complain about because one of our team-mates, Regardt Verster, is fighting for his life in hospital after a car crash and we’re doing this for him,” Markram said.


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