Cape Town – His likely swansong season with Lancashire presents
minor complications ... but probably not enough to stand in the way of
experienced Proteas scrapper Ashwell Prince joining Cricket South Africa’s
national selection panel.
Sport24 understands that moves are certainly afoot, as first
rumoured recently, to coax the left-handed batsman into a new role back home.
That quest will only pick up steam with confirmation on
Thursday that Andrew Hudson, 35-Test opening batsman for South Africa in the
early post-isolation period, will step down from the panel in June after
serving as convenor since 2010.
Remaining panel members Shafiek Abrahams, Linda Zondi and
Hussein Manack may well be reappointed, but that would still leave a
significant void, not only given Hudson’s leadership of the quartet but his
near-standalone personal experience of international cricket as a player.
Abrahams played a single one-day international for the
Proteas against New Zealand at Newlands, though Zondi and Manack never donned national
There will undoubtedly be some public speculation that
Hudson has been cajoled into resignation at least in part by CSA’s broad
recommitment of late to transformation goals.
But if Prince comes into the picture – assuming he agrees to
nomination, a process that closes on April 30 -- the transformation box he
ticks would be overwhelmingly incidental.
That is because his own Proteas pedigree in the field of
combat is quite beyond dispute: he represented the country in 66 Tests, making
11 centuries and averaging almost 42, and 52 ODIs over a period between 2002
He is a feisty and single-minded character, qualities that
often came to the fore in his resilient approach at the crease, and certainly
an unlikely yes man if cynics assume he will merely be part of a process that
rubber-stamps any convenient CSA “political” agenda, if you like.
Prince is still a combative batsman at the age of almost 38
– it is surely only useful for selection purposes that he is an
up-to-the-minute first-class cricketer? – and in that very fact lies an obvious
For the Port Elizabeth-born campaigner reversed late last
year his intention to retire from all cricket, committing to a further English
county campaign this summer with Lancashire, and he is already among the
championship runs after scoring 97 – a typical Prince innings after taking
guard in the second innings at 21/3 – in the victory over Derbyshire this week.
But the current panel will still pick the SA squads for the
three-format Proteas tour of Bangladesh during the middle of the local winter,
and it is this writer’s understanding that Prince would potentially only miss
involvement in picking for one series thereafter – the home ODI and T20 roster
in August (played on the Highveld or in Durban only for early-spring weather
reasons) against New Zealand, SA’s conquerors in the World Cup semi-final
He is highly likely to finally step down from a playing role
when the county season finishes in mid-September -- well ahead of the local 2015/16
season-proper where England are the headline, major-series visitors.
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writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing