What is it with South African players and The Hundred?

The general consensus of opinion seems to be that the highly anticipated Players Draft for ‘The Hundred’ was an underwhelming affair characterised by a series of selections and omissions described, variously, as ‘strange’, ‘unexpected’ and ‘hard to understand’.

Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga’s names were left in the hat, undrawn, as were those of Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis. In all five cases the players (or their managers) chose to reserve their skills in the highest price categories. Either they weren’t really that bothered about being part of England’s shiny new tournament or they were extremely confident about their desirability.

Gayle is 40-years-old and Malinga 36. The first edition of the competition doesn’t take place for another nine months. It was expecting a lot for any of the eight city-based teams to take a chance on two men who are giants of the game but have an awful lot of cricket in their legs (and the rest of their bodies.)

It also seems likely that they misread the ECB’s attempts to generate as much hype and razzmatazz as possible as a sign that high profile, big name players would be a priority. As it transpired, coaches and their Franchises opted largely for younger players with an eye on growing a squad for the future. They took a long-term view rather than aiming for instant success.

There was a strong sentiment expressed, too, that the high profile Proteas trio had also priced themselves out of the market with Rabada opting for the maximum £125k and the other two £100k. There is no doubt that Temba Bavuma was being optimistic with a reserve of £75k but there was still plenty of value to be had with other South Africans. David Miller might have expected a bid at that price although Dale Steyn’s age and fitness record would have counted against him.

But what about the all-rounders? Chris Morris has been worth over $1million for three years in the IPL but did not attract a bid at £60k. Further down the list there were some serious bargains to be had, you might have thought, with Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder entering the draft with no reserve price at all. No interest.

Heinrich Klaasen? No thanks. What about wrist spinners? They are a crucial element in every successful T20 team, without exception. Tabraiz Shamsi has played with consistent success in tournaments around the world. Nope.

How about some proven batsmen? Pick them up at the end of the draft for the base, minimum price. Rassie van der Dussen, surely? No thanks. Perhaps a younger fast bowler – Lungi Ngidi is good enough for the IPL. Nothing.

Not a single, currently eligible South African player was bought in the draft (Imran Tahir is theoretically still available for the Proteas T20 side but has been operating a full-time mercenary since the World Cup.)

There were 13 South Africans selected – (make it 12 if you discount Roelof van der Merwe who is now playing for the Netherlands) – and all of them are on Kolpak contracts and unavailable for their country. Just for fun, how do you reckon this team would fair if it played in the tournament as the “Protea Exiles” alongside the Manchester Originals, Birmingham Phoenix and Welsh Fire etc?

1.Cameron Delport, 2.Rilee Rossouw, 3.Colin Ingram, 4.Dane Vilas, 5. Leus du Plooy, 6.David Wiese, 7.Wayne Parnell, 8.Simon Harmer, 9.Kyle Abbott, 10.Hardus Viljoen, 11.Marchant de Lange.

It may well be a coincidence that so many non-Kolpak South Africans went unsold. And it was hardly a surprise that so many Kolpak players were sold because tournament regulations had them listed as “locals”. The only two who surprisingly missed out were Morne Morkel and Duanne Olivier.

If it is something other than a coincidence, however, it is either that our best players are not as highly regarded (or as good) as we think they are, or there is a concerted reaction against opening the door for any more South Africans into English cricket.

If neither of those has any validity, perhaps all South African cricketers are suffering from ‘brand association’. The Proteas suffered a month of humiliation in India and confidence in the game in this country is not at an all-time high. Quite the opposite.

Unsold SA players with reserved price: (*indicates Kolpak)
Kagiso Rabada – £125k
Quinton de Kock – £100k
Faf du Plessis – £100k
Temba Bavuma – £75k
J-P Duminy – £75k
David Miiller – £75k
Dale Steyn – £75k
Chris Morris – £60k
*Morne Morkel – 50k
*Richard Levi – £40k
Aiden Markram – £40k

Unsold SA players with no reserve:
Farhaan Behardien, Andrew Birch, Junior Dala, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Sarel Erwee, Bjorn Fortuin, Robbie Frylinck, Christiaan Joncker, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Sisanda Magala, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan, Mangaliso Mosehle, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Dwaine Pretorius, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts, Rassie van der Dussen, *HeinoKuhn, *Duanne Olivier, *Stiaan van Zyl.

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