Proteas head for T20 action

2010-04-21 00:00

AS THE Indian Premier League draws to a close, with scenes of Yuvraj Singh sulking on the sidelines and Lalit Modi under the spotlight for financial irregularities, it’s perhaps time for some sanity to prevail.

Considering the million-dollar contracts and the equally inflated egos on display in this tournament, it’ll be good for our players to take a break and refocus on international cricket — and the pride that comes from playing for their country.

The Proteas leave this weekend for the West Indies to participate in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, which will be followed by a winter jam-packed with international cricket.

The young cricketers selected for the SA-A and Academy teams have been offered a great opportunity. These teams have been selected based on the players’ performances over the summer.

The SA-A side will get a taste of playing cricket on the subcontinent when they leave shortly to take on Bangladesh.

Being selected for a representative touring side is one of the many privileges that come to cricketers in their careers.

There won’t be huge crowds or major press at these matches and contracts will be a far cry from those on offer at the IPL, but players will know that they are playing for the honour of representing the second-best eleven in South Africa.

They also know that if they do well there is a chance they may be chosen for higher honours.

It often appears that Graeme Smith’s Proteas side is a closed shop and that there is no easy way in.

However, a great performance from one of the SA-A cricketers will certainly put pressure on the selectors. It’s all about timing.

A strong SA-A side will provide a firm base of players for the future. With this in mind, I find the selection of Thami Tsolekile as captain a curious one.

A year ago Tsolekile could not make the Cobras team and, as a result, he moved upcountry to the Lions franchise.

Following the Neil McKenzie captaincy debacle, Tsolekile was appointed captain of the Lions, and has now been given the nod to lead the SA-A side to tour Bangladesh.

Tsolekile, who is nearly 30 years old, is an experienced cricketer. He is an incredibly talented sportsman — equally gifted playing hockey or soccer — but it is cricket he has stuck with.

He has played over one hundred first-class games and three Test matches, but has never developed into the player everyone hoped he would.

His selection as captain of the SA-A side represents a great opportunity for him and yet there are surely other cricketers who are more deserving. Tsolekile has been given a number of “lives” in his time.

His disciplinary record is colourful and his cricket stats aren’t that impressive, but there is obviously some potential that Cricket SA see in him. He leads a bunch of talented cricketers hungry for success and desperate for the chance to play for the Proteas.

The tour to Bangladesh will give Tsolekile the chance to reward the selectors for the trust they have shown in him over the years. I hope he makes the most of it.

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