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28 Mar 2008 07:20
Who do Andre Nel’s supporters think he is? A better bowler than Charl Langeveldt, or perhaps in some other way superior?
Or are they labouring under the falsehood that Nel is an Englishman, an Australian or a Sri Lankan, or a citizen of some other country whose cricket authorities have not committed themselves to racial transformation? Makes you want to deliver a snotklap in lieu of a lesson in demographics.
No one should forget that the selectors are among those who have signed up for the challenge of rescuing South African cricket from its racist past and transforming it into a game fit to be part of a freshly democratic society.
Judging by the past few days, there’s a long way to go yet.
The anger unleashed by Nel’s exclusion from the South African squad that is currently engaged in the first Test in Chennai hit the headlines like the monsoon.
Nel himself sparked much of the acrimony with his brattish response to being left out.
If Nel needs that kind of motivation to take four wickets—as he did after apparently refusing to play in the second one-day international against Bangladesh—then he is in the wrong profession. Nel reportedly remained piqued last week. He was the picture of abject misery in the midst of the throng that gathered to celebrate after his franchise team, the Titans, had won the MTN domestic one-day championship.
“Good,” he snarled, awash in his own surliness, when people he knew asked how he was doing. Then he stalked off into the distance with his chin shoved towards the ceiling like a martyr braced for the bite of the firing squad’s bullets.
In the process, Nel alienated sponsors, administrators and commentators, one of whom described his behaviour as that of a “miserable bastard”.
We can only be thankful that his team had won.
But all that was predictable. We are, after all, living in a country that is deserted in droves by people who can’t decide which they hate more: crime or black people driving BMWs.
Some of them no doubt think it’s a crime that more black people drive BMWs than was the case back in the day. And the first thing the fleeing hordes do after they’ve unpacked in places like Perth? Buy a Springbok rugby jersey.
Less expected was the response of the man who was chosen ahead of Nel for the India tour.
“As players we all have a good idea of when we are clearly in the running for selection and when we aren’t,” Langeveldt said after withdrawing from the squad.
“You just have to look at Andre’s Test record compared to mine and the fact that he has been part of all the Test match plans, while I haven’t played a test match for two years.
“I have always fought for a place in the team, but I don’t want to be put there because of my colour. Up to now I have been very happy in my role in the one-day team and I know my value there. I’m quite upset by this now and I’m going to need a bit of time to consider my future.”
Here’s hoping that someone—perhaps Arthur, considering his success with massaging the fragile ego of the average fast bowler—will remind Langeveldt that he is one of the best exponents of swing bowling in the country, that he is already an accomplished international player, and that there are sound arguments to be made for his inclusion in any squad for a tour to India.
That had better happen soon, because Langeveldt’s comments are a clear indication that he has been convinced otherwise. In fact, it’s too late—he has signed a Kolpak deal with Derbyshire, who might want to send their new man to someone who will be able to help him rebuild his confidence.
Send the bill for that service to Joe Public, South Africa, or to Cricket South Africa, whose chief executive, Gerald Majola, made the curious statement that “we believe we need to be reasonable and look at what we have” in terms of transformation.
Does that mean Majola considers Langeveldt’s selection unreasonable, and what is Monde Zondeki to think of his belated inclusion in Langeveldt’s place?
“Monde has shown outstanding form this season to establish himself as the leading bowler in the domestic game,” said selection boss Joubert Strydom. Too right, considering the 62 wickets Zondeki has taken at an average of 19,16 in first-class matches.
So why wasn’t Zondeki picked in the first place? And would some people expect him to follow Langeveldt’s lead and withdraw?
After all, Nel’s career figures of 119 wickets at an average of 31,22 in 34 Tests hardly make for startling reading. Tell you what, let’s ask Nel’s supporters what they think.
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