Proteas in the Caribbean: Triangular series is down to two

The Proteas flew to the Caribbean on Wednesday for a lengthy one-day international (ODI) triangular series involving Australia and the West Indies that will be as intriguing as it is meaningless in so many ways. At least the hosts are the only team on Earth able to surpass South Africa for off-field politicisation, and comfortably.

While the International Cricket Council ponders and prevaricates over the urgent need to introduce a meaningful format and league for Test and ODI cricket, we are left to rely on the traditional rivalry between Australia and South Africa to capture and sustain our interest with the spices and seasoning of the region to supplement it.

The Proteas have a familiar look about them, especially in the batting department, where only the omission of David Miller is a change from recent years. Rilee Rossouw and Farhaan Behardien will have yet another opportunity to make themselves regulars at number five or six and JP Duminy, on recent form, may also be sucked into that scrap.

Chris Morris has shown enough form with the bat to start at number seven in the batting order, which solves one problem — a genuine all-rounder — but still leaves the Proteas without any batting to speak of below that, with Kagiso Rabada leading the attack to be joined by either Morné Morkel or Kyle Abbott among the seamers, and Aaron Phangiso likely to partner Imran Tahir in a two-man spin attack ahead of Tabraiz Shamsi.

At least, that’s how it might start. But with six round-robin games before a possible final, there should be plenty of time for Wayne Parnell to prove that his stunning domestic form, with bat and ball, can translate internationally and for chinaman bowler Shamsi to show that his success in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Caribbean Premier League, temperamentally and statistically, could also work at the highest level.


Parnell remains one of the most frustratingly unfulfilled talents of the past two decades but he is at an age when most all-rounders are only starting to understand their games and the demands of their role. He can bowl as fast as almost anyone, he swings the ball and he is an accomplished enough batsman to score hundreds. Perhaps, having married two weeks ago and settled in Cape Town, this will be his real coming.

Australia welcome back peppery fast bowler Mitchell Starc after a prolonged injury break and will have a fresh squad, having recalled captain Steve Smith and key all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh prematurely from the IPL with injury niggles. They, certainly, are taking the series seriously.

To say that the selection of the home side’s squad has raised eyebrows would be to say South Africans suspect their president may have overspent.

At the heart of the angst is a West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) ruling that only players who participated in the Caribbean domestic 50-over competition are eligible for selection, which ruled out Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Andre Russell and Lendl Simmons, all of whom would comfortably be in the top 15 players from the region. But that’s not all.

Some of those who did make the cut are quixotic picks, to say the least. Jonathan Carter is there, having averaged 6.3 in three ODIs in Sri Lanka and wasn’t in the top 10 run scorers in the domestic tournament.

Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher are included, having averaged 18 and 13 respectively. Evin Lewis was the best opener in the tournament but doesn’t feature. Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel did not play, but he is there. As are Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, neither of whom played — admittedly because of injury and suspension. But aren’t rules rules?

The WICB policy on selection was started in 2010 and cemented in stone by the current director of cricket, former South African domestic coach Richard Pybus. The players were told that accepting contracts in the Big Bash and Pakistan Super League, worth on average between $50?000 and $70?000 for a month, ahead of playing domestically at $700 a game, would make them ineligible for international selection.

Nothing the great Clive Lloyd does can ever detract from his record as a player and captain. All-time great — fact. But his comments as selection chief defy belief.

“Once they play in the competition, fine,” he says in defence of the omission of some of the best limited-overs cricketers in the world. “The point is, they are still top-class cricketers and they should come and play in the tournaments because that is the board’s rule,” Lloyd said.

“I want our cricket to be the main course and the IPL to be the snack, but we have it the other way around, so we have a problem,” he said. “I don’t want to stop our players making money but they must emulate those from other cricketing nations, who, though they compete in the IPL, make themselves available when called upon to represent their national side.”

Cricket South Africa takes a different view. AB de Villiers, the national captain, was excused his duties as his team left for the Caribbean and will only catch up with them after the IPL final, almost a week after they arrive and just three days before the first match. That is called pragmatism.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Neil Manthorp
Neil Manthorp works from Cape Town. Talk and write about cricket,golf and most sports. Executive Coach. Cook for the family when at home. Neil Manthorp has over 27405 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Smith, Warner return to scene of sandpaper scandal

Smith and Warner were captain and vice-captain of Australia on March 24 2018 when team-mate Cameron Bancroft was caught on television hiding a piece of yellow sandpaper in his trousers

‘Friendly’ Aussies ready for hostile tour

Coach Justin Langer and captain Aaron Finch are hopeful the game will be played in good spirits despite the expectation of crowd jeers

Cool-hand Ngidi scuttles England at the death

The fast bowler assured victory for the Proteas in a nail-biter T20 match

Past Proteas run the rule over new-look team

The South African side showed a mixed bag against England in the ODI series, and now have three T20s to build on the positive aspects

Proteas change it up to blossom again

The Proteas have entered the England ODI series with nine changes from their World Cup line-up, as well as a new captain. It’s paying off, so far

From De Kock the dasher to Quinny the dutiful

Quinton de Kock’s cricketing brain has made him South Africa’s new ODI skipper. But if his batting genius is to win games on its own, first he must give up the keeper’s gloves.
Advertising

The PPE scandal that the Treasury hasn’t touched

Many government officials have been talking tough about dealing with rampant corruption in PPE procurement but the majority won't even release names of who has benefited from the R10-billion spend

ANC still at odds over how to tackle leaders facing...

The ANC’s top six has been mandated to work closely with its integrity committee to tackle claims of corruption against senior party members
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday