Annual names worthy ‘big five’

2010-10-20 00:00

THE Mutual and Federal Annual 2010 was launched in Johannesburg yesterday and, as is tradition, editor Colin Bryden also named the five cricketers of the year.

The annual, which was sponsored by Mutual and Federal for the final year — after a 14-year association — is regarded as the most authoritative cricketing journal in the country, and the choice of the five outstanding players for each year always generates great interest.

The honour can only be bestowed on a cricketer once, and this year’s ‘big five’ are certainly worthy of the accolade.

In a season that has seen the Eastern Cape franchise stand out domestically, it was fitting that the Warriors had two players in the select group for 2010.

Captain Davey Jacobs, who has grown in leaps and bounds, secured his spot with dominant performances in the Warriors’ winning campaigns in the MTN40 Championship and also the Standard Bank Pro20 last season.

To add even further weight to his credentials, Jacobs had a starring role in the recent Champions League T20, and is now one of the most sought after players ahead of next month’s IPL auction.

“Last year was a great season for me and the team, and hopefully we can do it again,” the quietly-spoken Jacobs said yesterday.

His blistering bashing at the top of the innings has already had tongues wagging for him to be included in the national set-up, but he says there is a long road ahead.

“It would be great to turn out for the Proteas one day, but there are a lot of good players ahead of me,” he admitted.

Jacobs did say that a more immediate ambition for him is to ensure that the Warriors defend at least one of their titles from last season, before cheekily adding that another final in the Pro20 campaign — and subsequent qualification for the Champions League — would be more than handy.

Certainly, the advent of Pro20 cricket has given players more options, but Jacobs is still itching to turn out in green and gold.

A keeper-batsman, he reognises that being versatile can only help his cause.

“There are quite a few guys in the queue behind “Bouch” [SA keeper Mark Boucher], but it will obviously help my cause if I can also keep.”

Jacobs’s team-mate Rusty Theron — who celebrates his wickets by bumping chests with his skipper — was another Warrior to be honoured for his exploits.

Theron made his ODI debut just last week, and has already earned himself a reputation for being an excellent “death-bowler”.

Theron said it was encouraging to see the growing pool of talent being exposed to international cricket, but was just as grateful to have the ‘old hands’ around to show him the ropes.

“It was nice to make my debut with guys like Colin Ingram and David Miller in the team, but it is also very calming to have Graeme [Smith] and AB [de Villiers] in there when the going gets tough.

The Warriors duo were joined by a pair of Lions on the podium, with Alviro Pietersen and Thami Tsolekile having enjoyed excellent turn-arounds in form last season.

Pietersen had completely dominated the first-class batting list in 2008/09, but missed out on recognition last year.

This year, however, the Lions captain chalked up a Test century on debut, before adding several important knocks atop the Proteas batting card to cement his place on the list.

His team-mate, the nuggety Thami Tsolekile came back to cricket’s top table with a bang having fallen away after making his Proteas’ debut in 2004/05.

His career with the Cobras stalled, and a subsequent move to Gauteng has been the making of him.

His standing as a keeper has never been in doubt, but the slightly built Tsolekile has added consistency with the bat to his credentials.

His exploits saw him captain the Lions to the final of the Pro20 last season, and it was his deft knock against the fancied Titans that secured that win.

At 28, the new-look Tsolekile may yet force the national selectors to look his way.

The final recipient was the returning Ryan McLaren, who has slipped in seamlessly to the Proteas ODI set-up after coming back from a Kolpak contract with Kent in county cricket.

Like Theron, the Free State all-rounder has nerves of steel in the latter overs with the ball, and he showed this by securing wins for Smith’s men in the West Indies in June.

With the World Cup in India next February, the likes of Theron and McLaren will certainly be needed to stem the flow of runs in the latter stages.

And if current form is anything to go by, the likes of Jacobs and Pietersen may yet bash their way into the reckoning for inclusion there, too.


Lungani on Twitter.

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