SA in New Zealand

Keep Levi there: ex-selector

2012-02-20 13:15
Richard Levi (Gallo)

Cape Town – Big-hitting sensation Richard Levi must extend his stay in New Zealand by being added to the Proteas’ one-day international party, says former national seam bowler and selector Craig Matthews.

“There is nothing procedurally to prevent them (from adding one name to the currently 14-strong SA ODI squad),” Matthews told Sport24 on Monday.

“I’d be shocked and very surprised if there hasn’t been, or very soon will be, a chat between Gary (Kirsten) and Hudders (selection convenor Andrew Hudson) agreeing that Levi should stay on after the T20s – even if it is just to give New Zealand’s bowlers more sleepless nights.”

Levi made weekend headlines worldwide for his multiple record-smashing innings of 117 not out off 51 balls in the second T20 international against the Black Caps at Hamilton.

Former national captain Kepler Wessels has already added his own weight to the “extend Levi’s ticket” campaign in a column on the SuperSport website.

“Amazingly there seems to be doubt in some quarters whether Levi should be playing in the one-day internationals as well,” Wessels said.

“The answer is simple: of course he must be added ... and he should open in all of them. Why not use him and expose him to the 50-over game as well? A decision not to do so will be selection madness.”

Matthews, meanwhile, is well-qualified to make comparisons between Levi and Herschelle Gibbs, with the former now considered a perfect fit into Gibbs’s long-time slot at the top of the South African limited-overs order.

The fast-medium bowler was a senior member of the Western Province side into which a young Gibbs acclimatised in the early 1990s.

“There are obviously similarities in the rate they score at,” Matthews said. “I would say Levi shows a more ‘brutal’ approach; a fairly simple way of going about his business.

“Herschelle was classy in terms of choosing where he wanted to hit the ball and in the way he mixed up his (assault on the bowling) ... one minute he might be fetching the ball outside off-stump and flicking it past fine leg, the next he’s advanced down the track and gone over long-off.

“They’re equally effective in their own ways: Levi all about pure power and Gibbs more with timing as an important factor.

“Richard has drawn up a game-plan that works for him. He’s a strong boy who muscles the ball over the ropes quite easily.

“It was one of the most effective innings I’ve ever seen, in terms of the way he was just able to keep going, keep going ... I think it was the kind of innings South African cricket needed, introducing a new kid on the block and our winning the game so crushingly.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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