Durban bias in selection angers local cricketers

2010-02-05 00:00

THE vexed question of cricketers from outside the KZN Inland region qualifying to play for the provincial inland team is one that troubles a lot of locals.

Several times this season, local cricketers and supporters have complained that new players from Durban are drafted straight into the provincial side, without even having played a club game in some instances.

There are upwards of half-a-dozen Durban-based players who have played over recent seasons for Inland in the Cricket South Africa three-day and 40-over provincial competitions, which give a cricketer ample opportunity to rack up first-class experience in quick time.

With 13 matches in each format over a season, players who can’t make the urban-based KZN (Coastal) team are gathering enough first-class experience to gain easier access to jobs at UK clubs during the South African winter.

Of course, this all comes at the expense of local Pietermaritzburg and interior players, who are being denied the opportunity to notch up the same experience to take their cricket careers further in the same way.

Another advantage of selection is that cricketers who get noticed by franchises have a better chance of getting a full-time contract if they can harvest a stack of runs or wickets in the lower-tier competitions.

There are two sides to this question. One is whether Inland are trying to be seriously competitive and actually win a competition at first-class level, or whether they are prepared to accept a mid-to-lower-table final placing on the log in the interests of furthering bona fide local cricketers’ careers.

The thing is that the imports from Durban have not exactly painted the town red with their performances.

Indeed, several have struggled to put a halfway decent set of scores together.

Fair and square — and no disrespect to these thoroughly nice Durban guys who have been seconded to local clubs, as they are doing their level best: if the blokes from Durban are hotshot players of Dolphins calibre, one can see the real difference they could make, in the short term, to the provincial side’s fortunes.

However, such players are not available as yet, unless a plan is approved to allow Dolphins-contracted players, who are not playing for their side on a particular weekend, to play for the Pietermaritzburg-based province.

The question is being asked by locals, with increasing anger: “Do us genuine Inland guys have to move to Durban to get recognised by Inland?

“No wonder the best schoolboys go to Durban. The way things are going, virtually the whole Inland side could be made up of Durban-based players.

“The policy of selection convenor Yunus Bhamjee, coach Doug Watson and captain Tim Drummond is damaging our Inland clubs, as these Durban guys won’t stay here the moment they see they’re not going to be regulars. They have no ties to the community, after all.

“Guys like Chad Barron and Mario Olivier, local guys, have been first-class when given the chance. That’s better than any of the Durban imports, so why don’t the selectors have confidence in giving more of us a go?”

It’s not an easy one to answer, so perhaps it’s time the three wise men — Bhamjee, Watson and Drummond — compiled a coherent press statement to explain their selection philosophy.

FIXTURES

This evening – KFC Inland T20 Cup: Standard vs Zingari; Young Natalians vs Varsity II (both at Varsity Oval)

Sunday – Inland Premier League: Varsity vs Standard (Varsity); Midlands vs Zingari (Eston); Natalians vs Northern Districts (PMB Oval); Lancashire vs K&L (Woodlands).

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