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Proteas a huge boost to local competitions

It is normally from a land far away and on the television that most South African cricket fans get to witness the superb skills and exhilarating pace of Dale Steyn as he cranks it up to take on world class players from other countries and turn the advantage to the Proteas.

Despite being in the blue of the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, it was still a sight to savour for the paltry crowd that turned out to watch the Momentum One Day Cup qualifier. The value of the South Africa’s star players participating in domestic competitions is undoubtedly priceless and franchises would do well to get their big players to turn out when available.

The domestic scene is the breeding ground for the next generation of Proteas stars, but does not quite measure up as a test as it cannot adequately evaluate the progress of the youngsters if there is not the occasional opportunity for those who show promise to play with or against the stars.

To see a youngster like Yaseen Vallie having to take on the likes of Morne Morkel is good for the young player and also for the system. The fact that his half century was against one of South Africa’s best bowlers will instill a lot of confidence and a belief that he can reach the next level.

It is unbelievable to think that some feel it is warranted and better to allow South Africa’s premier cricketers to play in the Big Bash, which is an Australian domestic competition, rather than play important games at the business end of the competition for their local teams.

A few seasons ago the likes of Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and Ashwell Prince returned from national duty to win a competition for the Warriors. It ended a trophy drought for the franchise and was the cherry on the hard work done by the side in their absence.

There was much talk in the Australian media about certain South African players turning out for a few of the teams in the Big Bash League. The very fact that the various Australian cricket franchise associations are willing to pay top dollar to get these players into their tournament is a clear indication of the players’ importance and star quality.

Left to the player to decide, there are some who may well choose to turn out for their franchise but they would be few and far between, if any at all, as the sums of money offered are not so easy to ignore.

As always, it is balancing the team that local coaches will speak about when there is a sudden injection of quality players to a squad that has done decently to get to the latter stages of a competition.

I reckon sentiment gets in the way though as it is difficult not to feel for those who get the side to the qualifier only to sit out for that match and also the final if the returning stars manage to get the job done.

Still, it is a no-brainer; Steyn is the best fast bowler in the world so it would make no sense to leave him or any other high-flying Proteas for that matter out as they could win a match on their own.

With the final coming up, the Lions get their captain Alviro Petersen back and they will hope he adds to their team and also that they have not peaked too soon.

The Lions have already participated in a final this season, albeit in an “international” tournament. The opportunity is there once again to win a trophy though the Cobras, who are defending champions, will want to have the final word after their slow start to the competition.

While the players are the focus, it is also interesting to note that this final pits two young coaches against each other who have only had the reins for a few months.

Both Geoffrey Toyana and Paul Adams will want to start off by winning a trophy in their first season in charge. It would mean a whole lot to them if either can clinch the cup.

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