Home Sport Cricket Why has George Linde seemingly fallen through the cracks?

Why has George Linde seemingly fallen through the cracks?

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In 2021 George Linde played 15 matches for South Africa across all formats.

George Linde (facing camera) of South Africa celebrates with teammates. Picture: Randy Brooks, AFP

Cape Town – The burning question in South African cricket is how George Linde has virtually disappeared off the Proteas radar. Sports correspondent Zaahier Adams discusses …

In 2021 George Linde played 15 matches for South Africa across all formats.

These included 2 Test matches, 2 ODI’s and 11 T20I’s. It is fair to say Linde was an integral part of the Proteas’ plan and terribly unlucky not to be nationally contracted for the 2021/22 season.

But then everything changed when the spin-bowling all-rounder was left out of the 15-man T20 World Cup squad for the United Arab Emirates whilst on tour in Sri Lanka in September last year. Linde, who had played in the final ODI and claimed 2/32 from his allotted 10 overs, was subsequently dropped from the starting XI for the T20 series.

Eight months on and Linde has not played for the Proteas since.

So, the burning question is, what has transpired for Linde to fall so far down the pecking order, with the latest setback being overlooked for the upcoming five-match T20I series in India.

The confusion arose when Linde was not selected for the two-match Test series for the tour of New Zealand back in February. Cricket SA’s official reason was that it was due to Linde’s pending nuptials.

This publication, though, understands that Linde had sat down with both coach Mark Boucher and national selection convenor Victor Mpitsang prior to the tour to discuss his lack of gametime and time spent in Covid-restricted bubbles.

Linde requested to remain at home on the basis that the conditions in Christchurch, which were both Test matches set to be played at the Hagley Oval, would not lend itself to the Proteas selecting two spinners. Linde’s reason was that it would be more beneficial to remain at home playing provincial cricket for Western Province.

As things turned out, the Proteas opted for an all-out pace attack in the first Test before recalling first-choice Test spinner Keshav Maharaj for the second.

However, these circumstances opened the door for Simon Harmer to be recalled to the Test squad after six years in the international wilderness. And although Harmer never played in New Zealand, the Essex off-spinner has sufficiently impressed the team management in New Zealand that upon returning home that he was now in pole position to lay claim to the second spinner’s spot in the Test side for the series against Bangladesh on the spin-friendly home surfaces of Kingsmead and St George’s Park.

The rest is history with Harmer (13) and Maharaj (16) shattering the record books during the two-match series as the spin twins claimed 29 wickets collectively. It is hard to see selection chief Mpitsang and the rest of his panel looking beyond this duo for the blue-ribbon England series in the winter.

So, once again, where does that leave Linde?

Currently, the 30-year-old is playing for Kent in the English County Championship after also being granted leave from the recent SA ‘A’ series in Zimbabwe. Having recovered from a minor niggle upon arrival at Chelmsford, Linde has bowled 121.4 overs across three matches, which includes a tour game against a Sri Lankan Development XI, and taken seven wickets at an average of 49.5.

Admittedly these are not inspiring numbers, but in those three matches Kent conceded 571, 658/9 and 671/9, which should provide an illustration of the tough task all the bowlers faced.

Crucially for Linde’s international aspirations, particularly with the national selectors insisting his value lies in his all-round ability, he has fared much better with the bat averaging 44, courtesy of a 107 against the Sri Lankans.

The official line is that Linde remains “very much part of the Proteas plans”.

I sincerely hope so for Linde is an immensely talented cricketer that has overcome plenty of obstacles to reach the level that he has done.

Linde’s favourite line is “I just want to play cricket”. Hopefully he does so for the Proteas for many years to come.

@ZaahierAdams

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