Zondeki out in the wilderness
Ken Borland - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Finding the next generation of fast bowlers to succeed Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock, and back up Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, looks set to be a tricky procedure for South African cricket with two capped pacemen disappearing from the pro ranks in the coming season.
Monde Zondeki has said goodbye to the Cape Cobras after missing out on a contract, while Friedel de Wet has said yes to a Kolpak contract with Hampshire and no to a contract with the Highveld Lions.
Zondeki burst on to the scene in 2002, causing plenty of oohs and aahs as a genuine fast bowler with a whippy action. Sadly, that action also led to injuries and the Dale College product's lack of physical durability has been the biggest stumbling block to his international ambitions.
The 29-year-old took just four wickets in four matches during the Cobras' triumphant SuperSport Series campaign and, despite a successful MTN40 run, in which he was the Western Cape team's joint second-highest wicket-taker and second most economical bowler, he did not play a game in the victorious Standard Bank Pro20 season and has been released by coach Richard Pybus.
It will come as no surprise to those who have followed Zondeki's unfortunate career, that he is once again in rehabilitation.
"I don't have a contract any more and I'm just concentrating on getting myself back to 100%. I had an elbow operation two years ago and I'm still struggling with it. I've played no competitive cricket since January, but I've started bowling already in the nets," Zondeki told SuperSport on Wednesday.
Having made his first-class debut for Border in 2000/01, Zondeki believes his future lies back in the Eastern Cape.
"I'll probably try to play for the Warriors, I've been in talks with [new coach] Piet Botha. But now I just want to be in Port Elizabeth as quickly as I can and maybe play in some club games. I do feel I have quite a lot to offer still, especially when I am bowling really well," Zondeki said.
The disappearance (even if just temporarily) of bowlers of the quality of Zondeki and De Wet, puts the spotlight on South Africa's pace bowling reserves, especially if (perish the thought) the likes of Steyn and Morkel are injured.
The development of the likes of Wayne Parnell, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rusty Theron, Ryan McLaren, Dillon du Preez and CJ de Villiers has been delayed for various reasons, while Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Johan van der Wath and Garnett Kruger are all cruising towards the sunset of their days as pace bowlers.
The current situation is perhaps happy news for just one fellow though - Cobras seamer Vernon Philander, who has been in fabulous form in domestic cricket for the last three seasons.