Senuran Muthusamy and Tristan Stubbs join the Proteas’ World Cup all-rounder queue

Tristan Stubbs celebrates with Senuran Muthusamy during their SA A match against Sri Lanka A in Kandy on Thursday. Photo: Cricket SA

Tristan Stubbs celebrates with Senuran Muthusamy during their SA A match against Sri Lanka A in Kandy on Thursday. Photo: Cricket SA

Published Jun 8, 2023


Cape Town - Shukri Conrad’s dual objective heading to Sri Lanka with the South Africa ‘A’ team was to “develop players and win games at the same time”.

Using that theorem, it’s mission accomplished for Conrad and Co. after the tourists triumphed by five wickets in the series decider in Pallekele on Thursday.

But as important as the victory was for squad morale heading into the two-match four-day series, starting next week in Dambulla, the emergence of a number of quality options for the all-important No 7 all-rounder berth heading to the ICC World Cup in India later this year was of equal importance.

Teenage prodigy Dewald Brevis had already put his hand up at the start of the series with a breathtaking 98 not out along with Gerald Coetzee’s 77, who complimented his batting exploits with a haul of 5/48 on Thursday to skittle the Sri Lankans for just 172.

But that only galvanised fellow youngster Tristan Stubbs (55 not out off 93 balls) to show that he too could potentially fill the role with his consecutive half-century of the series.

Having burst on the domestic scene during the CSA T20 Knockout Challenge in Gqeberha a couple of seasons ago through powerful ball-striking at St George’s Park, the 21-year-old has been pigeon-holed as a “slogger” in certain circles, and therefore only suited to swinging the willow during the death overs in the shortest format.

But elevated to No 4 on Thursday, and the South Africa ‘A’ top-order alarmingly crumbling for the third consecutive time around him, Stubbs made a mockery of that notion.

With the situation demanding Stubbs to showcase greater patience, he duly adapted, absorbed the pressure, and comfortably found a method to succeed on a pitch that turned appreciably towards the latter stages.

It certainly helped that Stubbs had the experienced Senuran Muthusamy (45 not off 55 balls) at the other end, with the pair adding an unbroken 74 runs for the fifth wicket.

With all the young talent lining up for possible inclusion in Rob Walter’s ODI World Cup squad, it is easy to look past the unheralded Muthusamy who deserves to be part of the all-rounder discussion going forward.

Muthusamy claimed 2/42 from his nine overs and is a far more accomplished spinner than either of Brevis and Stubbs, particularly as he occupied the self-same role in the recent first Test against the West Indies at Centurion.

“Every team is looking for an all-rounder. I just try to do my bit, and put in the performances, like I’ve done for the last few years, and we’ll see how it goes,” Muthusamy told Independent Media from Sri Lanka.

“I’ve been to the subcontinent a few times now, both with the national team and ‘A’ team, so I do try and impart some of my know-how from my experiences here because we do have a couple of young players who are inexperienced.

“It was actually quite tough today. We had lost a couple of wickets, some rough started to emerge, and the ball started to spin. Tristan and I spoke, and just said let’s play some good normal cricket shots, and we should be fine. Then we managed to hit a few gaps, and run well, and the partnership flowed and I’m just glad to get over the line and win the series. It’s a really good feeling.”


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