Graeme Smith has to find a way to get the South African T20 freelancers back into the national frame regardless of Sunday night’s positive result in second T20I.
I AM NOT sure if Graeme Smith is in the Caribbean with the Proteas. I sincerely hope he is.
And that’s not so that he can enjoy rum punches on the Jolly Roger sailing away in the idyllic turquoise waters.
It has more to do with Smith spending some time with his West Indies Cricket Board counterpart Jimmy Adams. The former Windies skipper now serves as the Windies Director of Cricket – the same post Smith occupies at Cricket SA.
The topic of their dinner conversation should centre on how the Windies have managed to get all their T20 freelancers in one place at the same time, and crucially all pulling in the same direction in the build-up to the T20 World Cup later this year.
It is no secret that it’s been a mountain to climb for the Windies as many a former WICB administrator has fallen short in attempting to get the likes of Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle and André Russell all playing together in the maroon jumper. The fact that it’s the first time in six years that it’s actually happening should not be overlooked.
The global impact of Covid-19 on the scheduling of the various T20 leagues cannot be discounted as it has created a volatile climate for the short-format freelancer, which may have played its part in the veteran superstars’ decision to commit to the West Indies.
But the fact that they all present and accounted for is a huge feather in the Windies cap, particularly for Adams, Board president Ricky Skerritt and coach Phil Simmons. It was certainly no coincidence that Bravo made his international U-turn prior to Covid when Skerritt replaced Dave Cameron as the board president in 2019.
What has this all to do with Smith and the Proteas though?
If the similarities are still not screaming back at you, then let me explain. Smith has to find a way to get the South African T20 freelancers back into the national frame regardless of Sunday night’s positive result in second T20I.
AB de Villiers’ retirement yacht may finally have set off into the sunset, but there is his schoolmate Faf du Plessis to consider, who has arguably been a greater asset to the Proteas T20 side during his career.
Du Plessis is still among the leading performers in the IPL and PSL – the benchmark for any creditworthy T20 cricketer – and his revered tactical nous will significantly boost the intellectual capacity in the Proteas dressing room.
T20 captain Temba Bavuma admitted last week that he has yet to play in the UAE – the possible alternate venue for the T20 World Cup in October – and neither have any of the other top-order batsmen bar David Miller. Du Plessis’ experience is a currency that has no monetary value attached to it right now.
Furthermore, who has Chris Morris pissed off at Cricket SA? Pardon the crassness of the question, but it certainly seems that way from the outside.
I simply cannot understand how a team that has lost five consecutive T20I series can continue to overlook the most expensive player in IPL history.
It is the equivalent of Brazil not calling up Neymar or France ignoring Kylian Mbappe. The duo don’t single-handedly win matches and guarantee success, but their presence does give their respective teams a better chance of achieving it. So too will Morris’ for the Proteas.
Lastly, there’s Imran Tahir. The evergreen leg-spinner would shear his lengthy ash blonde hair in an instant if it meant a Proteas recall. Tahir remains as committed and as in-form as ever even at 42-years-old. And if the powers-that-be feel they are covered in the spin department, then at least get Tahir involved on consultancy basis for the World Cup as the spin bowling coach for there are few that have played more matches in the desert than him.
The Windies have shown that they can get their “rebels” back. Smith now has to do the same for the Proteas.