JOHANNESBURG - The presence of members of the Proteas in the RamSlam T20 Challenge has led to selection headaches for the six franchise coaches and raised the question about the loan system and how it should be utilised by Cricket South Africa to ensure the national players get some game time.
Currently it’s the Titans who have the most international stars on their books, and if it weren’t for a number of injuries in that team, Mark Boucher might have some real problems on his hands. As it is, with Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel and Chris Morris injured, Boucher doesn’t have to concern himself with how to fit them into his team - for now.
Still, because of the need to balance the starting teams, some players are going to sit out. The Titans benched Dean Elgar and Heinrich Klaasen for their opening fixture last week, while the Knights did the same with Duanne Olivier. So if their "home" franchises can’t use those players, should they be loaned elsewhere?
The loan system does have its merits but it is can lead to farce, as was the case last season when Qaasim Adams, then contracted to the Titans, was loaned to the Warriors and ended up facing them in the T20 final.
There was a case earlier this season when Tabraiz Shamsi was loaned to the Warriors for a four-day Sunfoil Series match against the Cobras and two weeks later was back in the Titans team that played to a draw with the Dolphins. That is ridiculous use of the loan system.
There is a strong argument, much as should be the case for football’s transfer window, that loans should be made at the start of the season, and once the player is loaned, he cannot come back to his "home" team for any format for the duration of the season.
The argument isn’t as simple as just releasing a player for a few weeks. Other franchises may not be able to accommodate or even need an Elgar, for instance, and in the case of some players, maybe they don’t want to be loaned.
The benefits of having the Proteas were there for all to see last weekend. The standard and intensity of the matches increased, while their presence at training and in the dressing rooms has proved inspirational.
They do, of course, cause selection headaches for the coaches, but as those coaches all mention, they're the type of good headaches they don’t mind having. Where the trouble arises is the number of players who are not able to play, bring the loan system to the fore, but that is a consequence that must be allowed to slide.
Solving it may involve establishing a new franchise, and right now Cricket SA certainly can’t afford that.