CAPE TOWN – “Love life! We only have one chance at it!” That is Christiaan Jonker’s status on his Twitter profile.
At 31 years of age, Jonker may have believed his chance of playing for his country had passed him by. But on Tuesday, the Warriors batsman was loving life when he was included in the Proteas T20 squad for the three-match series against India.
Jonker was one of three uncapped players called up by Linda Zondi and the national selection panel, with Titans duo Heinrich Klaasen and Junior Dala also joining up with the Proteas T20 team. Klaasen has, of course, played in the on-going ODI series, where he is coming off a scintillating batting performance in the “Pink ODI” last Saturday at the Wanderers.
“Fortunately, I received the call on Monday already, so I have had a night for it to sink in,” Jonker told Independent Media. “But my phone has buzzing all day, people calling to congratulate me and also the media, so today has been exciting. It is certainly is a wonderful feeling to be called to play for your country. Sometimes you think that it may never happen, and then this happens, and you like a little child again. Age is certainly nothing but a number.”
Zondi and his panel can certainly not be accused of being “ageist” this season. Dolphins all-rounder Robbie Frylinck (33) played a couple of T20Is against Bangladesh earlier this season and now the hard-hitting Jonker has been handed an opportunity.
“With the Test Series against Australia starting only five days after the completion of the T20 Series it is necessary for us to rest some of the players who have featured in virtually all our international matches so far this summer,” Linda Zondi said.
”These include Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram among the batsmen as well as most of our frontline fast bowlers. AB de Villiers has missed quite a lot of cricket this summer so he will play in the T20 Series.
“We have also decided to give Imran Tahir a break. He remains our first-choice spin bowler in both white ball formats,” explained Zondi, “but we need to give more game time to Tabraiz Shamsi and Aaron Phangiso. The next ICC World Twenty20 is not all that far away in 2020 so it is important that we develop and examine our resources for that tournament.
“Christiaan Jonker has been one of the most explosive finishers in domestic T20 cricket in recent seasons and his selection, together with that of Junior Dala, gives players who have performed well at franchise level the opportunity to show that they can compete at the highest level. Heinrich Klaasen’s recent performance speaks for itself. Reeza Hendricks gets another opportunity for the same reason, having been the highest runs scorer in this season’s RAM SLAM Challenge.”
With Markram rested, and regular captain Faf du Plessis still unavailable due to injury, the leadership reins has been handed to the Proteas’ leading T20I run-scorer JP Duminy for the series.
Proteas T20 squad: JP Duminy (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Junior Dala,, AB de Villiers, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.
South Africa A squad: Khayalihle Zondo (capt), Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, Beuran Hendricks, Pieter Malan, Senuran Muthusamy, Duanne Olivier, Rudi Second, Malusi Siboto, Shaun von Berg.