Cometh the hour, cometh the mystery man

Times Media

TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

HE’S played 240 matches across all formats and at all levels, taken guard 275 times, scored 12 centuries and 46 half-centuries in his aggregate of 7783 runs, which gives him an average of 31.63.

He’s also bowled 3483 balls of off-spin and taken 78 wickets – two of them for four runs in the five deliveries he has sent down in the Africa Cup.

Who is he? Here’s a clue: he went to the same school as Errol Stewart, Mickey Arthur and Robbie Frylinck, not to mention those two famous Chads: Ho and Le Clos.

Still stumped? His high school coach thinks he could be special enough to share a sentence with modern batting’s resident genius.

“He’s a very versatile player,” Fabian Lazarus, head coach at Westville Boys’ High, said on Wednesday. “He’s got all the shots and he scores all around the wicket – a bit like AB de Villiers.

“He’s not going to clear the ropes all the time like Chris Gayle does, but he’s very difficult to pin down at the crease once he gets going.”

His name is Khaya Zondo and he is part of SA’s Twenty20 and one-day squads in India, an achievement he earned on the back of scoring 154 runs at 38.50 in four innings for SA A in a one-day triangular tournament on the sub-continent in August. That and the stress fracture of the foot that has removed Rilee Rossouw from those equations.

If only things were that simple. The facts that Zondo is black, uncapped at international level and South African mean many of his compatriots will have leapt to the assumption that he owes his selection to affirmative action more than anything else.

Those who question Zondo’s inclusion should ask themselves whether they would take issue with his selection if he were white – or whether they would leap to another assumption: that convenor Linda Zondi and his panel had taken a flyer on a “youngster” (Zondo is 25) who had shown some promise.

Either way, the only person who can reveal the truth of all that is Zondo himself. Should he get the chance to do so in the first T20 against India in Dharamsala on Friday, he won’t have received any help from the groundsman, Sunil Chauhan.

“For T20, you need a sporting pitch,” Chauhan told reporters yesterday. Really? For T20? In India?

That was only the first of the conflicting comments Chauhan made as he faced the microphones wearing a roughly stitched cowboy hat and sunglasses almost as big as his monster moustache, the points of which drooped dramatically in the direction of his camo T-shirt. He was the very picture of the Marlboro Maharaja.

“Because of the timing of the match (7pm local, 3.30pm in SA) dew will be a factor … I’m expecting a high-scoring game … there will be bounce and turn for the spinners.”

That’s a properly mixed masala of what might happen. Good luck figuring it out, Mr Zondo.

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