Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Clearly there is still no substitute for raw, grievous-bodily-harm
pace ... even if you are going to have to ply your trade for a few weeks on
notoriously unhelpful Indian pitches.
That much can be deduced from the Kolkata Knight Riders’
decision to snap up rookie South African express bowler Marchant de Lange in
the recent Indian Premier League (IPL) auction.
De Lange, the 21-year-old from Tzaneen, fetched $50 000: it
was only his “base price” but nevertheless represented a remarkable bit of
recognition for him, considering that many people back home will be close to
gobsmacked that more established Twenty20 customers domestically like Lonwabo
Tsotsobe, Richard Levi and Justin Kemp went unsold.
Tsotsobe has become more and more accomplished as a
mix-it-up, strangling seamer in limited-overs cricket generally, many view Levi
as heir apparent to one Herschelle Gibbs at Newlands for his boundary-seeking
exploits at the top of the order – he is some 13 years younger than the old
favourite – whilst Kemp may be getting long in the tooth but also still smacks an
impossibly long ball when the mood grabs him.
Indeed, you could add Vernon Philander to the glaringly cold-shouldered
list because not even 30 wickets in his first four Test matches for the Proteas
this summer at an average of 13.23 could suitably impress the “judges”.
His crime? Probably just the fact that he doesn’t commit his
devastation at any special rate of knots: he bags most of his scalps bowling at
130km/h or thereabouts in the corridor of uncertainty.
Yes, being fast and loose still gives you a better chance of
earning your place at the lucrative IPL table, the possibility of blood on the
popping crease or a helmet requiring an impromptu panel-beat luring people
through the gate like Spaniards to a bullfight.
For while it is true that his first-innings 7/81 in lone
Test appearance thus far, against Sri Lanka over the Christmas period, would
have made observers worldwide sit up and take notice, De Lange’s T20 career is
No, make that jaw-droppingly limited – it amounts to precisely
And it came not even in the franchise-level Pro20
competition; instead the unsexy-sounding CSA Provincial T20 Challenge, for
Easterns against Free State on October 30 last year.
De Lange scored four not out off three balls, and then
bowled a so-so spell, at least statistically, of 4-0-38-2 (wickets Gihahn
Cloete and Rilee Rossouw) as his side succumbed by five wickets at Chevrolet
Park in Bloemfontein.
It is not as though De Lange has much experience or an
especially proven track record in the more extended form of limited-overs
cricket, either: he sports 14 List-A appearances.
The paceman will be an intriguing wildcard at the IPL’s
fifth edition, that’s for sure ...