Neil Manthorp – 18/10/2000,
South African cricket’s desire for ‘squad rotation’ has been around for quite some time now, but so has an even stronger inability to break old habits! No one can really be blamed because, ultimately, it is the players – and only the players – who can make such a system successful and we should be sympathetic to a group of men who want to play in every single match.
“Yes, we are likely to rotate the squad,” selection convenor Rushdie Magiet said on Wednesday. “I think we’ll do quite a bit of juggling and playing around with the squad over this season, and some of next season, in order to fine the best balance for the 2003 World Cup. It’s very important to give all the players who do well domestically the chance to perform on the big stage,” Magiet said.
One of Magiet’s greatest qualities is his honesty and willingness to deal frankly with straightforward questions. He rarely becomes rattled and even more rarely aggressive when sensitive questions are thrown his way. For example: “Does Roger Telemachus’ suspension for the first match against New Zealand in Potch on Friday mean that Makhaya Ntini is guaranteed a place in the starting XI?”
“Well, we have Shafiek Abrahams to call upon as well,” said Magiet, dealing brilliantly with the UCB’s ‘teams of colour’ policy but sticking to the principle of not actually spelling it out. “You can speculate about that, certainly, but it would be grossly unfair of me to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when we haven’t had our selection meeting yet. I would say it is likely, but I can’t confirm it,” Magiet said.
Daryll Cullinan, form and fitness permitting, remains an important part of Magiet’s plans for the 2003 World Cup while Boeta Dippenaar seems likely to be given a chance to claim a place at the top of the order alongside Gary Kirsten. Andrew Hall, in turn, may be played down the order and asked to contribute more regularly with the ball.
If Australia are to be used as a guideline, and they often are (!!), then squad rotation – especially for the fast bowlers – is a proven winner. Whether South African can finally summon up the inner strength to enter a match without Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock or Jacques Kallis, with the greater, long-term good in mind, is quite another matter. In the Australian squad, for example, everyone receives a match fee whether they play or not.
That would change attitudes a bit, I would imagine.
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