Why the selectivity for cricketing mentors?

2013-01-25 00:00

I’M all for experienced and retired players lending a helping hand. It’s the selectivity that bothers me.

South African sport, especially our soccer, is notorious for its lack of mentorships. As a young player who is finding his feet in the game, all you see around you are the likes of Jabu Mahlangu, Thabiso Malatsi and Junior Khanye — players who flushed their talents down the drain.

How do you expect a player who was born in abject poverty not to go all out when they are swimming in cash?

Cricket is different sport altogether.

First, it requires more attention to detail. Second, it is an expensive and time-consuming sport. Poor parents have not choice when a cricket bat costs more than a child’s school fees. It is another reality ordinary South Africans face and another reason cricket has had difficulty taking root in township areas.

South African cricket has a rather small circle in which current and former players network and make contact. Many a former player has all but ditched the sport and focused on other means to keep their lives going. As in any other sport, some take up coaching and do well; others become their master’s voices.

Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, whose retirement was so cruelly curtailed by that horrible eye injury while on tour with the Proteas in England, was allowed to plough his own furrow during his early career. It’s doubtful whether a young talent like Quinton de Kock should have the same opportunity.

I’m happy that Boucher has made the time to be in De Kock’s corner, because youthful impetuosity and exuberance need to be tempered by a mature mind. At 20, it is difficult for a youngster to marry talent and application and if there is someone who has walked the miles before you, there is no better mentor. I have one question though: why is suddenly necessary for De Kock to get mentoring in preference to others?

As wicketkeeper De Kock is occupying a much debated spot in South African sport, a spot that AB de Villiers has vacated in short formats in the meantime. I believe the mentoring is selective and counterproductive for other young keepers.

If it were the more level-headed ’keepers like Mangaliso Mosehle, Rudi Second or Athi Dyili, would the need for mentoring have arisen? I know that Dyli is far off national reckoning, but much of his first-class career was spent under Boucher’s shadow at Border and the Warriors. I’m not sure what words of wisdom, if any, were imparted to him all those years ago.

This fast-tracking and the sudden need to straighten De Kock’s tracks is all but discouraging for other keepers.

He’s a talented player, but the favouritism is way too apparent.

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