All that glitters is not gold
A saying we are well versed with in knowing not everything that looks precious is necessarily so.
Talking about precious, one would believe The Proteas T20 team having won the last three series against West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka definitely fits the mould of gold.
Well, truth be told it doesn’t, there are cracks of uncertainty and decays of desolation.
Let that sink in!
Uncertainty within the very system that governs the game in a country still reeling from a divided past with the recent exit of the assistant coach, Enoch Nkwe who happens to be a black man for his differences with head coach, Mark Boucher who happens to be a white man before the big Sri Lankan tour.
Division still prominent if you ask me when it comes to racial issues though on the face of it, these things never get a mention.
Add to that the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings, the very foundation of which is based on addressing racial inequalities of the past that have all but sucked the juice out of Boucher, which still remains unresolved.
Desolation when it comes to selection policies hurting sentiments of cricketers for no performance peril of theirs.
Against the backdrop of such uncertainty and desolation, it is difficult for one to digest the tower that is the Proteas team can truly stand tall if the foundation which is the management, itself is so fragile.
With all due respect to West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka, the level of competition South Africa will face at the World Cup will be far steeper with the likes of England and Australia that are in the same group as The Proteas.
Hence, the question that a true Protea fan should ponder on is despite triumphing in the last three series, when it comes to the T20 World Cup is South Africa truly ready with the squad that they have?
Here are some thought provoking arguments.
Meritocracy and Logic missing in action
If you are George Linde, you would most certainly feel let down by just being a travelling reserve in the recently announced Proteas World T20 squad, this despite being one of the most consistent performers for the Mzansi in the shortest format since his debut against England in November 2020.
Since the 2019 World Cup, no Proteas bowler has had a better strike rate (15.43), dot-ball percentage (58.33), boundary concession percentage (16.72), or a better economy rate (5.89) during the powerplay than George Linde in the shortest format.
Despite such accolades he still doesn’t find a place in the final 15.
Bjorn Fortuin, a coloured player who is most certainly a good left arm spinner especially in the powerplay has been picked though his batting credentials vis-à-vis Linde are surely found wanting.
In the recently concluded Sri Lankan T20 series, the Proteas played only five regular batters and one seam bowling all-rounder which convinced me even further on the need to have an extra spin bowling all-rounder to strengthen the batting.
Playing five regular batters against a not so powerful Lankan outfit might not have spelled disaster but against the stronger teams in the T20 show piece will certainly do.
As I ponder more on this particular case of selection, the waves in my head constantly point towards one argument i.e. is race playing a role in these selection policies to beat the most important word which is merit?
Dear Mr. Victor Mpsitang, the Convenor of Selectors and Mr. Graeme Smith, Director of Cricket, where is meritocracy and logic in picking your best team to win the all elusive world showpiece?
Having said this, another young player who surely deserved to be picked in the squad is opener Janneman Malan after he partnered well with Aiden Markram in the T20 series against Pakistan boasting a healthy strike rate of 130 with a half century to his name.
A lot hasn’t been spoken on his omission from the squad which for me is certainly perplexing.
Why were the stalwarts left in the cold?
Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir have been two of the most potent weapons for South Africa in their T20 excursions for the better part of the last decade.
Du Plessis has shown smashing form in the ongoing CPL, having made a whopping 120 of just 60 balls and followed that up with another 84 of just 54 balls.
The form and experience that he brings to the Proteas setup is certainly second to none albeit such potential and repository of knowing the shortest format inside out still hasn’t got him the nod in the final 15.
Same is the case with the other stalwart, Imran Tahir who in his 40s is still lighting up the CPL like an effervescent 20-year-old. In a recent interview after having been overlooked for the World T20 squad, Imran Tahir stressed on the words disrespect and worthless.
If you don’t want them in the team, that’s one thing basis consistency in selection but not creating a proper communication channel to explain the reason for their exclusion certainly speaks a lot about the South African selectors and management albeit not in the most encouraging sense.
Certainly, players of the calibre of these two aforementioned stalwarts after all they have achieved for South Africa can’t be given the treatment that was vetted out to them.
Make no mistake, a team picked purely on merit can only achieve the impossible of winning a global showpiece.
Ask the Kolisi-Erasmus duo who brought the Rugby World Cup home in 2019 and they will whole-heartedly agree.
The cultural unity that comes from winning a showpiece event is far higher than having selection policies that defy merit in the name of race under the pretext of proper demographic representation.
Sport has the power to unite a nation and the Springboks certainly showed that in 2019.
Can the Bavuma-Boucher duo show the same in 2021 albeit with what they have?
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