Oz, SA players having it easy?
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town -Two former Australia fast bowlers lashed out on Monday at what they consider to be over-protective injury management strategies by Cricket Australia for the national side.
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Back home, meanwhile, the unexpectedly small crop of Proteas Test players turning out for their franchises in the closing stages of the 1-Day Cup, following the drawn short series against the Aussies, has also attracted criticism.
The Baggy Greens have five players ruled out of the first Test against New Zealand, starting on Thursday in Brisbane, including teenage pace sensation Pat Cummins to “protect his long-term future”.
Cummins, who shone on debut at the Wanderers recently, is nursing a sore heel, but Geoff Lawson, who earned 46 Test caps in the 1980s, questioned the decision in the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Why is he not playing this Test match? A sore heel? And that’s going to stop him bowling? He needs to keep bowling ... if he’s going to bowl in the nets then why doesn’t he play in the Test match?
“He’s going to get a sore lots of things when he plays a Test match.”
Another Aussie strike bowling legend, Jeff Thomson, weighed in: “You’re handing out (Test caps) dime a dozen. This week there’ll be five blokes having a rest and five (new) blokes who walk in that nobody really knows who they are.
“It devalues the Australian Test to the public. All this stuff doesn’t help. It used to be a treasured spot.
“Not any more, it’s like a day at the office. Someone’s had a sickie so here, do his job for him. It’s turning out like that a bit.”
In South Africa, the top international players have a lull in activity until Sri Lanka’s arrival in December, but were encouraged by coach Gary Kirsten after the 1-1 Aussie outcome to play for their franchises in the 1-Day Cup.
“Time out in the middle will be good for the players,” he was quoted as saying, doubtless taking into account that Proteas stars had an unusually lengthy off-season this year.
But in Monday’s Business Day, Telford Vice wrote that “Proteas players are not making full use of the opportunity they have to stay in form while they wait for the international campaign to resume”.
He pointed out that although Jacques Rudolph had played in all three Titans matches since the end of the second Test, fast bowlers Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and left-arm spinner Paul Harris “have not been seen” in franchise colours.
Of course the scheduling of the local season has done the country’s best players no favours: many had not played any first-class cricket between the last Test against India last summer and then the twin Aussie assignments in the new campaign.
And when the four-day SuperSport Series resumes in mid-December after a plethora of limited-overs activity, it simply coincides precisely with the start of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Centurion on December 15 ...