South African cricket was lucky and spoilt to have someone like Jacques Kallis in the side. King Kallis as affectionately known to many, made enormous contributions to the team throughout his career, with both bat and ball. He played a significant role in the success of the Proteas, especially in test cricket. Having someone like Kallis in the team really helped the side stay balanced. Kallis, a 3-in-1 player as some pundits call him, was a big player for the Proteas and this is evident from the efforts made by the selectors to find the next Kallis.
Forget The Next Kallis And Find A Good All-Rounder
The retirement of Jacques Kallis left a big hole in the team that the selectors have been trying to fill for a while now. The search for the next Kallis began just after his retirement and has not had much success to date. All the all-rounders that have been tried have not impressed, some have done well with the ball while some have failed miserably. One of the reasons the Proteas are struggling to find a suitable replacement for Kallis could be the fact that they are looking for someone who is in the same mould as him, instead of looking for an allrounder who can do the job the best way he knows how. It could take us decades till we see another Jacques Kallis, even someone like Ben Stokes is not in the mould of Kallis. The aim and or idea should be to find an allrounder who can contribute with both bat and ball even if he bats lower in the order as opposed to a Kallis who batted between 3 and 4.
The selectors may need to be patient with whoever they pick. South Africa has a few young all-rounders coming through the ranks at the moment, players like Delano Potgieter, Jason Smith, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Migael Pretorius, Tian Koekemoer, Andile Mokgakane the list is as long as my arm. The question around these young allrounders is centred around nurturing, opportunity, and freedom. Are young South African allrounders being nurtured properly, are they being given the opportunity to show what they can do and do they have the freedom to freely express themselves, is the current cricket environment conducive for allrounders to grow and develop. This is perhaps a different topic on its own.
Do The Proteas Need An All-Rounder In Test Cricket?
It is evident that the search for a test match allrounder is far from being successful. After several allrounders being picked from Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Wiaan Mulder etc. Nobody has come in and scored runs but most have done quite well with the ball. Over the years, the Proteas’ batting lineup has been very inconsistent and to some extent weak. A lot of test matches have been won because the bowling has been extremely good. Wiaan Mulder, who I believe is the next best all-rounder for test cricket has failed with the bat and is currently struggling with the bat in county cricket. He has done well with the ball but the side need runs from him now than wickets. The selectors opted for Marco Jansen who, unlike Wiaan Mulder, is yet to bat 7 for his domestic side and has no First-class hundred. This is something that is concerning because the team needs runs, hundreds.
Will a Marco Jansen, who has an inferior batting record to Wiaan Mulder do better with the bat? Perhaps the coach needs to revert to the 7-4 split because the Proteas’ batting woes never seem to stop and strengthening the bowling with a 6-5 split does not make sense. Marco Jansen is predominantly a bowler, so it is a 6-5 split, not a 6-1-4- split. The selectors can still pick an allrounder if they want but a batting allrounder would make more sense. When you have guys like Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj in your side, you hardly need a bowling allrounder unless one of them is not fit. The selectors should look to play an extra batter or pick a batting allrounder. Someone like Jason Smith from the Dolphins could be an ideal choice. A batting allrounder who can score runs and play the 4th seamer role.
The Proteas need runs and runs will likely come from a specialist batter or a batting allrounder. If all the bowlers are test match fit, there should be no reason the team cannot go in with 7 genuine batting options. Everyone would love to see the team find the next Kallis, but the reality is simply that, players like Jacques Kallis do not come about often. For now, the aim should be to strengthen what needs to be strengthened in the side.
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