Vilas, Morris set for little big time

There is a famous cricketing trivia question about the only man to own a World Cup winners medal without actually earning a single cap for his country.

There is a genuine answer too – no tricks. The unfortunate man is Sunil Valson, a left-arm seamer and right-handed batsman who was selected in India’s 1983 World Cup squad but never played a game – and was never selected again afterwards!

Hopefully, a similar fate will befall neither Dane Vilas nor Chris Morris when they travel to Zimbabwe in the middle of June as part of the Proteas T20 squad that will take part in a triangular series with the hosts and Bangladesh.

The series will not have ‘official’ status conferred upon it, which could – if events conspire horribly against either player in the months and years to come – lead to the question: “Who played X number of internationals for South Africa without ever earning a cap.”

I’m sure that will not happen. Vilas is clearly the next T20 ‘keeper behind AB de Villiers and it’s highly unlikely that he won’t be given a chance sooner rather than later.

Morris is an altogether different story – and a heart-warming one at that. A year ago he didn’t even have a contract at provincial or franchise level! There may be solid and valid reasons for that, and they may not even be cricketing reasons, but the fact that it has taken him just 12 months to attract the attention of the national selectors suggests that several things are working very well within the structure of the domestic game.

Corrie van Zyl and Vinnie Barnes spent a long time within the national team and know exactly what is required to succeed at international level. They see signs in players that are invisible to the rest of us. The fact that they are effectively overseeing domestic cricket and ‘managing’ the production line of future talent is an asset as yet unappreciated by the average administrator, let alone supporter.

Of course, 25-year-old Morris had to ‘make some noise’ and produce the performances to earn his promotion – nobody gets selected on potential alone. But when he did shine for the Lions, he was rewarded (or will be when the squad is announced), and that should be very good news for every aspiring cricketer with international ambitions. Domestic performances ARE noticed and WILL be rewarded.

Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel and De Villiers will not travel to Zimbabwe after a relentless IPL campaign, which will give the national team an exciting new look – albeit temporarily.

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