Rudolph deserves to be in contention for a Proteas spot

2011-07-13 00:00

THE tri-series tournament involving A-sides from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Australia has provided the South African side with important pre-season preparation, and, in the case of Jacques Rudolph, a reminder of a talent that was so nearly lost to South Africa.

Rudolph shone in the series held in Zimbabwe, amassing 308 runs at an average of 61,8. Australian Aaron Finch, who scored 186 runs, was his closest run challenger. Rudolph top-scored with 90 in a last-ball thriller won by Australia A in the final played at the Harare Sports Club.

The quality of the South African A-side should be a good barometer of the depth of South African cricket. The A-side should be made up of next-best players, who will ultimately play for the Proteas.

The current side still holds a number of cast-offs, players who have been unable to cement a permanent place in the national team and who will realistically probably never represent the Proteas again. I’m not sure selecting these players time and time again is the way to go. I feel the selectors should be looking at achieving a balance between new blood and players who still have the potential to push for a Proteas place.

After he was dropped from the Proteas squad Rudolph chose to leave South Africa to play for Yorkshire as a Kolpak player. It was a move that proved to be the making of him and a master signing for Yorkshire.

Rudolph, who scored over a thousand runs for Yorkshire each season, has been their most popular and prolific overseas signing by far.

Outspoken former Test batsman Geoffrey Boycott was delighted to have Rudolph play for his county and seldom missed an opportunity to remind the South African selectors how foolish they were to let him get away.

Rudolph has re-signed with Yorkshire for the remainder of the season in a bid to keep them from being relegated from division one. This time he has signed as an overseas player, which makes him eligible to represent his country if selected.

Rudolph, who captained the A-side in Zimbabwe, is a superb leader and a classy, determined cricketer. He has had to make some tough decisions in his career, but has matured into a true professional who can bat anywhere from one to six in the batting order.

On the back of a superb season for the Titans and his SA A success Rudolph certainly deserves to be in contention for a Proteas spot.

With Graeme Smith staying on as Test captain, despite his poor run of form, Rudolph will be up against Alviro Peterson for a spot at the top of the order, but would be equally comfortable down the order competing against the likes of Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy.

In my opinion Rudolph is in a different class and his versatility makes him an asset in one-day cricket too.

It’s healthy for South African cricket to have A-side players pushing for places and placing pressure on the Proteas who don’t perform.

The national team has been a closed shop for too long, but under Gary Kirsten I think we are in for a few surprises and quite possibly a changing of the guard.

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