Crucial tourney for ‘flop’ Levi

2012-10-09 17:31
Richard Levi (AFP)
Cape Town - Assuming he is given decent opportunities by the Mumbai Indians, Richard Levi must use the Champions League Twenty20 tournament to reassure critics of his suitability to play in the best company.

Although the SA-staged 2012 event is a step down from the international combat just witnessed at the ICC World Twenty20, it nevertheless boasts many of the very best short-format cricketers on the planet, so national selectors and coaches will still examine it with interest.

Burly Proteas top-order customer Levi has some rebuilding to do to a slightly tattered reputation: inevitably there is a swelling school of thought that he is a “one-knock wonder” for his country after that hurricane innings of 117 not out in just his second match for South Africa against New Zealand at Hamilton in February.

Unfortunately Levi has managed only 114 runs in 10 other T20 innings for the Proteas, including single-figure dismissals in six of his last seven knocks.

Not too surprisingly, the currently luckless 24-year-old was a prime candidate for a “Flops XI” selected by Cricinfo after the World T20, where South Africa again failed to even reach the semi-finals after losing all three of their Super Eights matches.

In their explanation of his presence, the website noted: “Having replaced Graeme Smith in the squad, largely on the basis of (that 117 not out) ... Levi’s lack of subtlety meant that, save for a facile 50 against Zimbabwe, he never threatened a repeat.

“Unable to rotate the strike effectively, Levi’s default option - the hoick to the leg-side - proved embarrassingly ineffective.”

If it is any consolation for Cape Cobras favourite Levi, he was in pretty esteemed company for the XI who “failed to live up to the hype” in Sri Lanka; the rest of the Cricinfo line-up was as follows: Gautam Gambhir (India), Hashim Amla (SA), Jonny Bairstow (Eng), Kamran Akmal (Pak), Kieron Pollard (WI), Shahid Afridi (Pak), Andre Russell (WI), Umar Gul (Pak), Tim Southee (NZ), Brad Hogg (Aus).

The imaginary 12th man named was Albie Morkel, another South African who could do with a strong Champions League for his long-time IPL franchise, the Chennai Super Kings.

Morkel is supposedly a power-hitting equivalent to Levi lower down the Proteas’ T20 order, and it must be of concern to the selectors that he, too, is struggling for significant scores.

Still, if it is going to be suggested that known clean strikers like Levi and Morkel should be jettisoned from the national set-up, alternatives have to be found - and if anything South Africa are a little wanting for natural boundary-hitters, particularly in this post-Herschelle Gibbs era.

With their national team statuses possibly in doubt, both men could use the Champions League as a platform to stave off doubters through weight of personal performance.

Levi’s Mumbai Indians open their account against the Highveld Lions on Sunday, part of a double-header at the Wanderers which also features Morkel’s Super Kings up against the Sydney Sixers.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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