Having made the SA A side for a second season and scored an 80 in Australia, some big scores in four-day cricket may have seen Omphile Ramela in the Proteas mix by now.
But unfortunately for the left-hander from Johannesburg, things haven’t worked out that way this summer. The 28-year-old retained the Cape Cobras captaincy in the Sunfoil Series, but poor form and dealing with a grievance against coach Paul Adams contributed to a lack of runs.
Scores of 10, 0, 14 and 9 would’ve ramped up the pressure on Ramela, but he came good on a “dead wicket” at Newlands where the Cobras and Warriors amassed over 500 each in their only innings.
His 170 was followed by 15 and 3 in the next match against the Titans, after which he was suspended by Cricket South Africa for breaching the code of conduct during the game.
Ramela’s first-class average has dropped to below 30 (it’s 29.97) after 94 matches, and he had to go on loan to the Lions for the T20 Challenge as there were more suitable 20-over players in the Cobras side.
So it’s been a season to forget for Ramela, but the dogged opening batsman will get a chance to kick-start his career by captaining the SA Invitation XI in a three-day tour match against Sri Lanka in Potchefstroom from December 18-20.
Proteas opening pair Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar are not yet certainties for the foreseeable future, despite both scoring hundreds in the recent Australian series victory.
Both batsmen have been inconsistent in between their big scores, and with the Sri Lankan series being followed by trips to New Zealand and England next year, their places could be under threat if another player from the domestic scene scores heavily.
Colin Ackermann, Khaya Zondo and Theunis de Bruyn are the only batsmen who have gone past the 400-run mark in the four-day arena after five matches, while Dwaine Pretorius (364) and Aiden Markram (354) are next and played in just three.
Ramela is in 20th position with only 221 in four games, but he could put his name in the selectors’ thinking again by producing the goods against Sri Lanka at Senwes Park.
Ramela will be surrounded by a number of promising youngsters such as Titans opener Markram and Cobras all-rounder Jason Smith, while spinner Dane Piedt is the only Test cap in the side.
“We see this match as a wonderful opportunity to see what some of our younger players, who have shown good form in franchise cricket this season, can do against quality opposition,” Proteas selection convener Linda Zondi said on Tuesday. “This is a good chance for these players to show what they can do at the next level.
“We have also included a number of provincial players who stood out in the Africa T20 Cup or for the SA Academy team. It is important that these younger players have some experience to feed off and this will be provided by the likes of Ramela and Dane Piedt.”
Sri Lanka will face the Proteas in three Tests, three T20 internationals and five ODIs, with the Boxing Day Test taking place at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
SA Invitation XI Squad
Omphile Ramela (Cape Cobras, captain), Aiden Markram (Titans), Leus du Plooy (Free State), Jason Smith (Cobras), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins), Marques Ackerman (North West), Mangaliso Mosehle (Highveld Lions), Dane Piedt (Cobras), Bjorn Fortuin (Lions), Lwandiswa Zuma (Knights), Duanne Olivier (Knights), Okuhle Cele (KwaZulu-Natal).