There’s little doubt that South Africa’s bowling attack could do with a bit more oomph. In Pakistan at the moment that would mean a second spinner with genuine zip and penetration but in the rest of the world it means more pace.
Mfuneko Ngam, Garnett Kruger…actually, there are a few possibilities but none that have proven themselves to be reliable and fit. No hang on, that’s not right. What about Mornantau Hayward?
His first year of a two-year county contract with Worcestershire infamously ruled him out of selection for South Africa’s tour of England and the game’s administrators at UCB headquarters could only wonder at the decision on an apparently loyal South African to end his international career at the age of 26.
But there were plenty of people determined to undo the unhelpful influence of Kepler Wessels (who encouraged Hayward to sign for Worcestershire) and despite the fractious relationship Hayward had created with selectors, chief executives and fellow players, there was hope that the awkward boy from Uitenhage could be rehabilitated into the national set-up.
After all, there was nothing wrong with his form in England as 70+ Championship wickets and promotion, as champions, from the second to the first division would indicate.
So it was interesting to hear the other day that Hayward had “made himself available” for the national team once again, deciding not to take up the option of a lucrative second year in England. Interestingly, Worcester locals had a different version of things when contacted recently.
“He was sacked – nobody wanted him around any more, under any circumstances,” a local journalist told me. “He just didn’t seem to give a shit about anyone but himself. He never made an effort to get on with his team mates or the fans.”
Never believe a journalist, of course. Ha ha.
So I contacted a Worcestershire player to find out the truth. He said “I’ll tell you a story. We were in the middle of a championship match and Nantie was getting carted. So he thought he’d be clever and started slagging the captain off in Afrikaans. He was calling him every name under the sun, with Andrew Hall laughing away. Trouble is, Nantie doesn’t think too much because if he did he would have realised that Graeme Hick speaks fluent Afrikaans. It certainly wasn’t the captain being the twat.”
Seems South African cricket may have to wait a while longer before its fast bowling ranks are swelled with someone who might do the country and its reputation proud.
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