JOHANNESBURG – As the Proteas attempt to unpack the reasons behind the beatdown handed out to them by India in three Tests over the last month, the spectre of Kolpak absentees, and the hole that has left in South African cricket started to hit home.
In the last 18 months, AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla have all quit the Test format. All four are still available to play cricket, though in the case of three, only in the Mzansi Super League. None of their expertise and experience is available at domestic first class level and so a void has been created that is almost impossible to fill.
Over and above that however, it’s absence of players Kyle Abbott, Wayne Parnell, Heino Kuhn, Simon Harmer, Duanne Olivier and Hardus Viljoen from the domestic first class circuit that is also inhibiting the development of young players.
Any youngster trying to ‘sponge off’ an older, more experienced player, currently has only a handful of options available to them in the Four-Day Franchise competition, which supposedly is where Test cricketers from this country are supposed to emerge. The number that have played Test cricket is even smaller.
“What this (series defeat to India) has unveiled, is that our structures are not where they need to be,” said Faf du Plessis, following South Africa’s innings and 202-run loss to India in the third Test in Ranchi yesterday. “The gap between domestic cricket and international cricket needs to be things need to be put in place to address that a little better.”