Thami a political pawn

2014-02-04 13:38
Thami Tsolekile (Gallo Images)
I know I am late to this argument – of late I have been mostly a periodic lurker – but sorry – Thami’s selection since forever cannot be discussed in anything but a political context. I hate to say that as I am sure he is a great guy. He is a victim here and politicians and selectors have used and abused him throughout his career. I even suspect Jenning selecting him when he was clearly not ready was as much about proving a point as it was about giving Mark Boucher a kick up the ass. Noone deserves the treatment Thami has received and no matter what happens for the rest of his career the South African cricket public should support him and the administrators owe him big time. But look at the facts. Forget about his test match average. Just go compare his first class average to all the other keepers playing first class cricket in this country and then come back and try and explain to me why he is in the squad.
Thami Tsolikili – 30.26
Morne Van Wyk – 36.02
Heino Kuhn – 42.85
Dane Vilas 42.18
None of those guys are any worse a keeper than Thami. In fact when Thami played under Ray Jennings his keeping was somewhat exposed. He has improved as anyone would over such a long time but there is no clear way to differentiate him as the best keeper of the above.

QDK in his short career averages more than all of them but we can leave him off the list since some may argue about his keeping pedigree. I would argue that if he is good enough to keep for you in ODI’s then he is good enough in any format. I would also argue that when AB started out he was no better than QDK now and his improvement behind the stumps was radical in a very short time.

As for your argument that the top 6 should do the job – a batting wicketkeeper has proved to be a key differentiator for many of the really good sides of the past. Australia had Gilchrest, England for much of there domination in the last 5 years before us had a firing Matt Prior who averaged over 40 in that period. And our rise to number one has been with De Villiers behind the stumps. Even the Windies side had Jeff Dujon averaging 30 in an era when batting averages were not what they are today.

Development is critical to this countries sport. The more previously disadvantaged areas that are given maximum opportunity to participate the stronger our sport will be and the more sport will unite. I support any measures that would force schools and provincial structures to invest properly in sport in previously disadvantaged areas. There are so many ways to do it yet it seems the will is never there from the administrators. All they want is miraculous results.

Even the case of Lopsy has to be considered. Here is a talented black african left hand bowler who has the ability to play test cricket. Somewhere he has fallen off the rails. Clearly he has had attitude problems but how it was allowed to get to the point where a county sent him home after a month due to a lack of professionalism is beyond me. Here is a guy who should be in our test side. Here is a guy who should get every bit of support and assistance he can get because he should be the next Makhaya Ntini. Yet he has been allowed to fall by the wayside (in test terms).

Tokenism on the other hand has the power to turn sport from a unifying factor into a divisive one. The Thami Tsolikili case is a good example. The Lions have fallen apart as a side this year and this issue is at the crux of it.

I have a hunch that Thami’s time is coming. De Villiers hand may not be quite right and Thami may well play at Centurion. I only hope that somehow what is quite clearly political and selctorial interference wont lead to a total breakdown of this side. But – I would suggest it is a distinct risk.

That said the hunch may be wrong. Because I cant see how we can have Thami and Mclaren or Parnell in the side without totally destroying the balance.

When all is said and done. This Australian series has to be all about winning. Because a victory will so solidify our number one status – so much so that an all out effort on that front cannot be compromised. So De Villiers must deal with his sore left hand and keep wicket. But thereafter there is an opportunity for investment in the future and De Kock has to be the man. If he can do a Gilchrest job at 7 for the next 15 years good luck to the rest of the world because it makes life very hard for a bowling team when your keeper at 7 is as good as your number 1,2,3. Just ask England after Brad Haddin’s performance in the ashes.

Sorry for the TL/DR post but once I get started on this subject I get beyond frustrated.

We have developed a test side with the potential to dominate for years. De Villiers has been key to that and we have a young gun waiting in the wings that has all the potential in the world. I’m sorry for Thami that he played in an era with Boucher and De Villiers around (not even mentioning the other 3 or 4 above) but the succession plan from a cricketing point of view is a no brainer. The only question is when does QDK take over and how do we expedite that process. Continuing to drag Thami along for the ride is an insult to him and a lot of other people.

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