Nurture the next in line
In just about all sports consistent good performance at any level is the goal so as to bring about success. The reward in many cases is an elevation to the next level until one gets to the highest point.
This is viewed as the pinnacle of the game and a call up or selection to that highest level is strived for by many a sportsman. Those who manage to stay at the highest level for a long time do so because of their hard work and talent with renown being their recompense.
Every single sportsman who gets to the top requires one thing; a chance to prove himself. That chance is earned by doing well and being noticed and then the tough work begins. When players are first selected for the national team, there is an adaptation phase that they have to get through on their way to establishing themselves as an important part of the team. Some do not get to that at all as they are discarded well before.
Just how long to stick with someone is always subject of much discussion when it comes to cricket and I reckon many a time there have been good players that have slipped through the cracks because the call on whether to stick with them or not was made a touch too early.
Let us imagine for a second the case of Jacques Kallis for South Africa; whoever it was who chose to stick with the man is to be thanked by the cricket world as Kallis has gone on to become a great. Still, that call must be made and one never really knows for sure.
South Africa will be smarting from the losses to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the unofficial triangular series that took place in Zimbabwe and so there may be some who scorn the players that were involved.
A couple of new young players went on the trip north of the boarder to Zimbabwe and would have been looking forward to wearing the South African colours and doing well. For some, things did not go too badly but for others there will be the ruing of not making the most of an opportunity.
While that is the case, I believe that a couple of games are not sufficient to make a judgment call on players who have been identified as the next in line. The games in Zimbabwe were an opportunity to test the mettle of South Africa’s next best in the absence of those that are currently relied upon to bring about victory each time that the Proteas play.
The exercise, which hopefully will be repeated, will go a long way to getting away from over reliance on a couple of key players and placing responsibility on other members of the group.
The revelation may well be that the depth is not quite as was thought and so there needs to be more outings such as the one undertaken to expose those believed to be in line to fill the boots of those currently in the Proteas team.
A programme that has the A side playing as much, if not more, than the national team would go a long way to ensuring that the learning is quicker and done at a level closer to internationals than domestic cricket so that the gap is bridged better.
The good that has been done by the likes of Farhaan Behardien, Dane Vilas and Chris Morris domestically was the basis of their selection and they should be nurtured so that the talent identified may bear fruit. The fact that there are matches against Sri Lanka A and then more cricket in Zimbabwe for the South African A side is good news, I hope that some of the players who were on the trip are involved in that squad as well.
From the occurrences of the short trip to Zimbabwe, I reckon South Africa is now better placed to make good and informed decisions on which players they will take to Sri Lanka in the final squad of fifteen for the ICC T20 World Cup.
So, while some may feel that it was a waste of time, I reckon there certainly was some gain from the exercise.