Cape Town - It will probably seem bizarre to some domestic
observers that No 1-ranked South Africa failed to earn a single spot in the
International Cricket Council’s annual Test team of the year revealed on
Truth be told, there has been no heinous cold-shouldering of
the country by the ICC’s selection panel, headed by their cricket committee
chairperson Anil Kumble.
The qualification period (September 18, 2014 to September 13
this year) simply coincided with a limited period of activity by the SA Test
team, no single series of any special gravitas for them and one severely disrupted
by the elements.
All they had in roster terms during that time were a mundane
home series against currently eighth-ranked West Indies - they duly won 2-0,
with one weather-affected draw in Port Elizabeth - and then a tamely-shared
mini-series in the Bangladeshi monsoon season, when only two full innings were
completed over the course of the two matches and all-day washouts were
It gave the ICC “wise men” a desperately limited list of
statistical ammunition from which to judge South African Test stars, after Dale
Steyn (for a record seventh successive time) and AB de Villiers (fifth
inclusion) had both cracked the nod in their 2014 side.
By contrast, for instance, this year’s surprise packages
Pakistan - rising anew through the Test ranks and currently third - had a busy
period of five-day activity during the qualifying 12 months, in which they beat
(in order) Australia 2-0 in the United Arab Emirates, drew 1-1 with New Zealand
in the UAE, beat Bangladesh 1-0 in a two-game away series, and beat Sri Lanka
2-1 in their own backyard.
That productive sequence helps explain why three Pakistani
players made the ICC 2015 elite Test combination - along with a trio each of
Australians and Englishmen.
Sadly the Proteas are already on the back foot in terms of
their bid to feature strongly in the 2016 team, having lost the series in India
even with one to play.
They will have to hope to make up ground both as a team and
individually in respective home series against England and New Zealand before
next year’s ICC cut-off.
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