Botha loss — red flag for SA

2012-04-12 00:00

CRICKET South Africa has announced its decision to release all-rounder Johan Botha from his national­ contract after the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September­.

This will enable Botha to take up a two-year contract to captain South Australia.

CSA have stressed that Botha remains committed to South Africa in the long term and that this contract will provide invaluable leadership experience for the 29-year old. Botha believes that the offer from South Australia is an opportunity­ that he needs to take and that it’s a cricket decision as opposed to a financial one.

He has, however, mentioned that he feels his selection is never guaranteed in the Protea line-up and this would almost certainly have swung his decision­ to have a stint Down Under.

Whatever the reasons, Botha’s loss to South African cricket is a concern and further evidence of a drain of talented cricketers from the system.

It’s a fact that in the last ICC World Cup tournament, 37 South African cricketers were in action, yet only 15 of these cricketers were playing for the Proteas.

That South Africa are able to stay at the top of the world rankings despite the loss of so many of their players says a lot about the depth of cricket in this country— but it’s not a bottomless pit and the increasing exodus­ is alarming.

Those cricketers who’ve chosen to ply their trade elsewhere in the world cite selection challenges as their main reasons for leaving. Many feel that they’ve been overlooked by selectors and that they have a better chance of playing more cricket and maximising their earning potential elsewhere.

Stepping out of international cricket, even for a two-year period, is never an easy decision. Chris Gayle from the West Indies knows this better than most.

Gayle, who has a history of falling out with the contentious West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), has been overlooked for the national team for some time.

Gayle has kept himself busy playing limited-overs cricket all over the world, but for him nothing means more than representing his country and he and the WICB are working to resolve their longstanding issues to make this possible.

The fact that so many South African cricketers are on the team sheets of other countries is being felt at franchise level in South Africa.

The standard of cricket in some of the franchises has slipped markedly­ and one can’t help thinking how much these provinces would benefit should some of their talent return.

I would have preferred to see Botha staying at home and fighting for his position, but I’ve no doubt that he will do well in Australia and that it will be a great experience for him.

South Africa’s loss will sadly be Australia’s gain, and this should serve as a red flag for Cricket South Africa.

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