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Ken Borland

Positive Klaasen makes a move into Test squad 0

Posted on March 04, 2017 by Ken


Titans wicketkeeper/batsman Heinrich Klaasen was celebrating a first call-up to the South Africa squad for their Test series against New Zealand on Friday, convenor of selectors Linda Zondi saying a “positive presence at the crease” had played a large part in his selection.

Klaasen has looked a top-class talent since his days with the dominant Tuks Varsity team and he now follows his skipper from his student days, Theunis de Bruyn, into the Test squad as one of the back-up players, having scored 635 runs in four-day cricket this season, at an average of 48.84.

Zondi confirmed that it was a close-run thing between Klaasen and Rudi Second of the Knights, who scored 684 runs at 52.61, with the 25-year-old Klaasen being considered a closer match in terms of approach to Quinton de Kock, the player he is understudying.

“It was a very close call and it could have gone either way. Rudi is a very experienced player and is definitely not out of our plans, but we just felt that Heinrich has a positive presence at the crease, he’s tidy behind the stumps and there’s something about him.

“He’s a good striker of the ball, a fearless cricketer. We’ve watched him a lot and we feel he can play the same role as Quinton de Kock,” Zondi told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

While the presence of players such as De Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, De Bruyn and Klaasen makes it a young squad, the selectors have also recalled veteran Morne Morkel, the 32-year-old who has not played a Test in more than a year.

Morkel is only two 50-over games into his comeback from serious back issues, but Zondi said they wanted some experience around to guide a young attack. Vernon Philander has played 40 Tests, but Keshav Maharaj (4), Wayne Parnell (5), Rabada (14), Olivier (1) and Chris Morris (2) have played just 26 Tests between them.

“We’ve been guided by our medical team with Morne and he’s 100% fit. We want him to play more games, but his extra experience is required, because we don’t want to be caught out if anything happens. We’re quite comfortable in terms of all-rounders, so Morne must just go there and compete, providing us with extra variety,” Zondi said.

Squad: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (Capt), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Theunis de Bruyn, Heinrich Klaasen.

Amla succeeds Smith in very different times 0

Posted on June 05, 2014 by Ken

Hashim Amla announced as South Africa's new Test captain

Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat announced Hashim Amla as the new national Test captain yesterday and then reflected that he was in the same position as current convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson 12 years ago when Graeme Smith was named as Proteas skipper.

While Lorgat suggested there weren’t many “quality captaincy choices” around when he was the selection convenor, things have changed dramatically in South African cricket in those dozen years and Amla, as universally respected and well-liked as any player, should have much more popular support behind him than Smith did in those tough initial years after the 2003 World Cup disaster and the shock of Hansie Cronje’s fall from grace.

Amla, the first player of colour to be appointed as full-time skipper, beat off strong challenges from AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis for the Test captaincy but such is the camaraderie and culture amongst the senior Proteas that both men have assured management that they are fully behind their new Test leader.

If Amla had the same sort of strong jaw as Smith did it would be hidden beneath his luxurious beard, which is also an apt metaphor for the differences in their captaincy styles.

While Smith’s brand of leadership was highly visible (and vital for the rebuilding of a demoralised team), Amla will be a calming influence, providing continuity and building on the strong systems already in place.

He may be softly-spoken, but Amla is certainly a strong character and the leadership he has shown in the changeroom will now become more obvious out in the middle of the action.

“This is a very exciting time. Hashim has been contributing in a big way and has had a massive impact as a senior player, and the captaincy will be an extension of what he already quietly does behind the scenes. His style will be different, but that will be refreshing,” national coach Russell Domingo said.

While promising to be his own man, Amla himself recognises that he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel now that he’s in charge of the Test side.

“Graeme’s leadership added a lot of value and we can take that with us and carry it on. A lot of us have played together for many years now and I won’t forget about the other senior players – it will be a collective effort. The team has gelled extremely well and has been managed brilliantly. We’re a high-performing Test team, we’ve been the best in the world, so not too much needs to change.

“I’m not going to try and copy anybody, generally you’re not as successful if you do. It’s difficult to say what style of captain I’ll be, I want to just let it come out naturally. I’ll just be as natural as possible, use what intrinsically works for me,” Amla said.

Even Castle Lager will get in behind Amla, according to Lorgat, even though the devout Muslim does not wear any branding or associate himself with any alcohol sponsorship.

“Castle have been very supportive, they sponsor the team not any individual. We all know Hashim’s views very well and we will meet the obligations of our commercial partners, although we are happy that they are respectful of individual views,” Lorgat said.


Hudson has clearer grasp of transformation – CSA 2

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Ken

Convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson had to explain himself to the board of Cricket South Africa (CSA) in Johannesburg on Wednesday and left with a clearer understanding of his transformation duties, according to acting president Willie Basson.

Hudson and his fellow selectors have been criticised for their handling of wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile, who was given a national contract last year and was assured he would be given an opportunity in the Test side during the current series against New Zealand.

Instead, Tsolekile has been dropped from the squad, having not been given an opportunity to play a single Test on tours of England and Australia, with key batsman AB de Villiers being entrusted with the gloves as the current successor to Mark Boucher.

“Andrew Hudson was invited to address us and he explained the selectors’ thinking in detail. After a long and intensive debate, he left more enlightened and informed about what is required from the selectors in terms of transformation. He has been sensitised to make sure the selectors deal with transformation in the most appropriate way in future,” Basson said at O.R. Tambo International Airport on Wednesday.

Basson confirmed that a mandatory number of Black African players for franchise and national teams is being considered by CSA.

“The target at the moment is four blacks for franchise and national teams, but a stipulation for Black Africans will be coming as part of the strategy of the Transformation Committee,” Basson said.

Basson acknowledged that more needed to be done at the higher levels of cricket in terms of transformation, but he said this had to be part of “a natural, bottom-upwards process”.

“Transformation at school and club level is far advanced – more than 60% of players are black at those levels. Transformation is still in progress at national level, and our efforts have been recognised by the minister of sport.

“But we’re now looking at three levels of transformation because they all have different requirements – national teams, franchises and schools and clubs. The pipeline needs to flow in a natural, bottom-upwards process,” Basson explained.

According to the acting president, Hudson defended the exclusion of Tsolekile because AB de Villiers was a much better batsman than the 32-year-old Highveld Lions wicketkeeper.

“Andrew explained to us the problems faced by the selectors in ensuring the team remains at the highest level and balancing that with the sensitivities of selection in ensuring there are necessary opportunities for everyone. He said it had been a case of AB de Villiers’ tremendous batting ability being more valuable than Tsolekile’s outstanding wicketkeeping and that, according to Andrew, Thami understands the position 100%.

“But the foundation has been laid for much better communication between the selectors, players and the board than in the past,” Basson said.

Basson also confirmed that the appointment of a Black African national selector was “in the pipeline” with nominations now being called for.

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