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'Lesser' players thriving in Proteas camp

To say that the South African cricket team is a well oiled and very efficient machine would not be at all untrue, and this is evidenced by their recent victories around the world and also here in South Africa. The latest of victories was in a mismatch against New Zealand but also showed just how far ahead of “the rest” the Proteas are.

While the usual suspects continue to churn out runs and take wickets, it is heartening and most pleasing for all in the Proteas management and the selectors that less well known or prominent players are contributing significantly to victory. In the Port Elizabeth test match Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn scored a century and took five wickets in an innings respectively as has now become expected but the performances of Dean Elgar, Robin Peterson and Rory Kleinveldt were more telling of the environment in the Proteas camp.

All three of the players mentioned above had an indifferent beginning to their time in the national side with Peterson’s case being a more protracted one as the gap between matches was very long. That all of them could make a comeback and achieve some success is a credit to their hard work, skill and also their temperament.

The story goes that Robin Peterson said to someone that all he requires is one chance and he would make sure that it counted. Well, he has done exactly that; Peterson has been a weapon for Graeme Smith in the three test matches that he has played since his return. He has presented danger to all batsmen whether top-order or not.

For Dean Elgar, it would have been quite easy for him to feel that he was not made for the top level after starting off with a pair and then missing out in Cape Town whilst others filled their boots. He fought hard in Port Elizabeth for his century and his celebration was indicative of the relief he felt after getting to the special milestone.

The Gabba in Brisbane seems a distant memory and when one thinks back to the player bowling no-ball after no-ball, he seems a different man to the Rory Kleinveldt who has been rather good and very accurate ever since. It has got to be said that Kleinveldt was fortunate to get a second opportunity when Philander pulled up with back spasms on the morning of that Adelaide test match in Australia. His third in Port Elizabeth was also due to injury to his mate Vernon, allowing Rory to show off his skills – which he did in fine fashion; he bowled beautifully.

While the relative success of these three players against New Zealand does not definitively say that they have come of age, it is important to note that “coming back” is very difficult in an environment that is not conducive to improvement. It also helps greatly to be trying to improve yourself in a unit that is very successful, as was the case for many an Australian young player when that team dominated.

There will be tougher tests but it is the Proteas’ time.

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