Cape Town - Despite the Proteas’ majestic win over India in Sunday’s deciding ODI in Mumbai, one couldn’t help but feel a little sympathy for Khaya Zondo.
Yes, all selections were justified after a Proteas innings of 438/4 yielded three centurions, but the fact is that Zondo has now spent a month in India watching two T20s (the third was washed out without a ball bowled) and five ODIs without getting a game.
Originally he was only due to be a part of the T20 squad, but Zondo was later called up as a replacement for the injured Rilee Rossouw in the ODIs.
And then, when JP Duminy got injured, it appeared that the innovative Dolphins batsman would get his chance.
But Chris Morris was the first replacement for Duminy in the fourth ODI before Dean Elgar – originally in the Test squad – was rushed into the side for the final ODI ahead of Zondo.
That selection would have been based on the fact that Elgar offers more with the ball, and while it may make sense, it would have hurt
As a former colleague of mine fortunate enough to be in India covering the tour said when I questioned him on Zondo’s omission, there are “part-time bowlers” and “flexi-time bowlers”, and Zondo falls “into the latter” of those categories.
As it turns out, the Proteas’ mammoth target allowed AB de Villiers the luxury of bowling the largely uninspiring Farhaan Behardien to the point where Elgar was not even needed, but there was no way of knowing that beforehand.
What has emerged from the decision is that Zondo’s bowling is not considered effective enough for him to be picked as a Duminy-esque all-rounder, which means he was taken on tour as a specialist batsman.
But a look at the current top order suggests little room for opportunity in terms of new, untested talent being given a run.
Amla, De Kock, Du Plessis, De Villiers … that takes care of the top four.
David Miller and JP Duminy, if fit, will follow and Behardien seems to have done enough with the bat on this tour to have earned himself another crack when the English visit in the summer.
A fit-again Rossouw places Zondo even further down the pecking order, and all of a sudden it is hard to see the 25-year-old getting a crack anytime soon.
There are five ODIs and two T20s against England in February and Zondo will be hoping that he is in the mix when that time comes.
All he can do until then is score runs for the Dolphins to remind convener of selectors Linda Zondi what he brings to the table, and taking a few wickets along the way wouldn’t hurt either.
Attention domestically now turn to the Ram Slam T20 challenge, which gets underway this weekend and runs through to mid-December.
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