Cape Town – Versatile former national limited-overs player Dave Callaghan believes he knows why current Proteas squad member Farhaan Behardien’s presence is often criticised: he is wrongly branded.
The Titans stalwart nicknamed “Fudge” represented South Africa with modest success in the recent one-day international series against England and is in the party for the looming ICC World Twenty20 in India and two home mini-series immediately preceding it.
Callaghan told Sport24 on Thursday: “I feel sorry for him. He’s one of those cricketers who suffers a lot of criticism, sometimes to the point of abuse.
“He’s actually a good cricketing package, who has shown on enough occasions what he is capable of as a batsman.
“Much of the flak is because he gets labelled too quickly as an all-rounder, just because he is a batsman who can help out a bit as a bowler when circumstances (warrant it).
“That was a problem for me during my career: I was a batsman first and foremost, but just because I could bowl I would get branded an all-rounder and then compared with or expected to perform like, for instance, a Brian McMillan.
“I could never have matched McMillan, who was an (authentic) all-rounder, so the label wasn’t always very helpful to me.”
Callaghan, now 51 and a product of the same era as McMillan, represented the country in 29 ODIs between 1992 and 2000, although only once did he ever bowl a spell of more than half of the 10-over allowance with his medium-pacers and sometimes didn’t bowl at all – a situation that has become increasingly common for Behardien.
But he was a batsman good enough to operate in the top five at times for a strong Eastern Province side in domestic first-class and one-day cricket, behind the likes of Kepler Wessels, the late Philip Amm, Mark Rushmere and Louis Koen.
Callaghan envisages Behardien, who has only bowled a miserly 12 deliveries for SA in 23 T20 internationals, and JP Duminy probably fighting for one berth in the middle order at the world event, given that batting is their better skill in each instance -- and with Duminy likelier to be the first choice.
“I am not too worried about JP’s lean run of late. He has shown he’s excellent at caressing the ball around in both 50-overs and T20; you can’t have your whole specialist batting line-up made up of ‘bashers’.
“But I hope there’s not going to be too much need for him to bowl full (four-over) spells ... perhaps fit him in for an over here and there.”
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