CAPE TOWN - What do Dale Steyn, Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Simon Harmer and Stiaan van Zyl all have in common?
Rory Kleinveldt and Dawid Wiese could easily also have been added to this list but for injuries to Proteas all-rounders Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris respectively.
Well, besides the fact that they have all played for the Proteas in the recent past, they will be seen carrying the drinks in the opening round of this weekend’s RamSlam T20 Challenge series or possibly even left out of their respective franchise squads altogether. Yes, even the legendary Steyn will be running around with a bib and a drinks tray this weekend.
My sympathy, though, does not lie with the players for the majority of them have opted to pursue Kolpak careers in England. So, in essence they are overseas professionals looking for employment outside of their primary contracts.
Why am I choosing to highlight this though? For the simple reason that the moment the line-ups are announced for the opening round of matches, there is going to be someone out there posting something on social media blaming “quotas” for their omission.
There’s no doubt South Africa is a unique country and in turn has a unique selection criteria. At domestic level, six players of colour have to be included in the starting XI, of which three must be Black African.
It is a policy that is committed to providing opportunities to players that were previously overlooked.
The benefit it has yielded is already significant. Cape Cobras’ all-rounder Aviwe Mgijima was heavily under utilised in the initial stages of his career. Only after the policy was implemented was his talent fully realised and now Mgijima is not only a stalwart in the Cobras team but also the franchise’s current Player of the Year.
Equally, the emergence of fast bowling prodigy Lungi Ngidi at the Titans bodes well for the future while Andile Phehlukwayo’s quality performances exemplifies the theory of what can happen when opportunities are provided.
There will be a further lobby protesting at the exclusion of someone like Harmer, citing reasons such as the blond off-spinner only recently bowled Essex to the County Championship title.
Here I always go back to Cobras coach Ashwell Prince’s point about the standard of English domestic cricket. “I loved playing county cricket and had great experiences there, it is a wonderful learning experience for a young batsman but I was retired from international cricket and 38-years-old already when Alviro Petersen and I put on a 501-run partnership!”
I recently watched Harmer bowl in a Sunfoil Series match at Newlands where the off-spinner conceded 148 runs at 4.48 runs per over. Not the sort of form that makes a bowler an automatic selection.
There are going to be some exciting players out on the park over the next six weeks that are going to royally entertain us. My humble advice would be to place your focus on them and not the ones taking the drinks orders.