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OPINION: Is provincialism a problem for the Proteas?

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IOL Cricket writer, Zaahier Adams is also scratching his head as to why Kyle Verreynne was left out of the first couple of ODI’s against Pakistan.

FILE – Kyle Verryenne during the third ODI against Pakistan . Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – I am not a great believer in conspiracy theories. I generally like to live my life based on facts.

But, I have also come to understand over the years that the cliché “where there is smoke, there is fire” usually means the kitchen is burning up.

And that brings me to the omission of Kyle Verreynne for the first couple of T20 Internationals against Pakistan.

Social media was in outcry after the Cape Cobras wicket/keeper batsman was left out of a virtual South Africa “A” side, dressed up as the Proteas, due to the IPL absentees and injury-enforced absence of captain Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen.

I did not blindly join the choir calling for Verreynne’s inclusion in the T20 team as I believe some players are better suited to different formats.

However, I do feel very strongly about Verreynne’s omission along with his Cobras teammates Janneman Malan and George Linde from the preceding ODI series.

Verreynne and Malan both eventually played the final ODI and immediately made an impact. Malan contributed 70 off 81 balls, while Verreynne struck 62 off 53.

Personally, I could not understand why Malan did not partner former captain Quinton de Kock from the outset in the opening two ODIs. Malan had struck a century in just his second ODI against Australia last season and subsequently topped the domestic run-scorers charts in the Momentum 1-Day Cup.

It is mystifying that Heinrich Klaasen was retained on the basis of his Australian series form but not Malan.

The Proteas brainstrust, headed by coach Mark Boucher and convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang, instead backed Aiden Markram throughout the ODI series.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. Markram is an unbelievable talent, as the last two T20Is at the Wanderers have shown, but I can’t help wonder if he would be receiving the same amount of gametime were he not a product of Boucher’s former franchise, the Titans?

It seems rather coincidental that the likes of Markram, Klaasen and now even Lizaad Williams, who moved north from Newlands to SuperSport Park at the beginning of the past season, are being afforded the opportunity to settle into the national team while others need to bide their time.

Cobras all-rounder Linde has been arguably the most in-form domestic cricketer across all formats for the past 12 months, and has taken virtually every chance afforded him at international level, but yet he still finds himself down in the pecking order below Warriors veteran JonJon Smuts in the ODI format. It’s laughable.

Equally, promising Cape Cobras left-armer Nandre Burger was picked for the away Pakistan T20I series and did not even come close to cracking a game, but yet Williams now plays two consecutive matches at home.

Everyone knows there was no love lost between the Boucher-coached Titans and Ashwell Prince’s Cobras and that a genuine “North-South” rivalry ensued when they were doing battle the past few seasons.

Malan, Verreynne, Linde and Burger are all Prince’s products. Let’s hope that the national team’s progression is not being put at a risk due to petty provincialism.