Kaymo’s Korner: Thami Tsolekile must forget about the Proteas

2014-02-25 10:00

On the eve of the second test, I had the pleasure of watching Thami Tsolekile bat on a separate pitch during a practice session, with Robin Peterson wheeling away on a Durban-like humid day, uncharacteristic for Port Elizabeth.

While most national team players bat with national team helmets, Tsolekile was using his Highveld Lions’ one.

With Quinton de Kock, who arrived at camp on Wednesday night, having made his test debut on Thursday, Tsolekile should now devote all his time to his domestic franchise because there is no faith shown in him, as his provincial junior has now overtaken him in the national pecking order.

Tsolekile (33), who has been with the team on every tour since 2012 and has been the best-performing domestic wicketkeeper for the past five years, must be wondering what more he needs to do to get in.

When it comes to the treatment of black cricketers, this is as shoddy as it can get and a very bad message has been sent out: black cricketers, you are on your own.

It’s clear South African cricket is no place for black players and that is very damning for an organisation that has prided itself on an “excellent” transformation programme.

Currently, there is only one black South African cricketer with a central contract, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

It has been a dark week indeed for black South African cricketers and the wait for a black test cricketer continues. It has been four years now.

Besides the fact that De Kock could be the Adam Gilchrist local selectors have been waiting for, there is everything wrong in parachuting a talented but third-choice franchise wicketkeeper as a prime batsman while overlooking the claims of the other young batsmen who have let their willows do the talking.

Tsolekile aside, it must be disappointing for the likes of Temba Bavuma and Stiaan van Zyl to be overlooked having done the hard yards in the domestic four-day game and continuing to be the mainstays of their team.

Yes, De Kock is on an elevated pedestal due to his stellar ODI form, which sees him on the brink of making four hundreds on the trot when he eventually gets an opportunity to don the pyjamas.

But red ball cricket is a different beast and at first-class level, De Kock has found the going tough.

Don’t be fooled by his first-class average of 48.87 – not a lot of those runs were made this season, even though that can be tempered by his time spent travelling with the Proteas.

The last time I checked, merit rewarded performance, especially in the case of test caps, where one has to prove themselves over a period of time to see whether they can withstand the test that is five-day cricket.

Weaknesses in this format have been brutally exposed and budding flowers have withered instantaneously in the heat of this cauldron.

But when it comes to the blooding of black and white players, there is a different bar of excellence; and as it stands, for white players, it is very attainable.

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