Wanted: the quicks, not the dead

Sunday Times


WANTED: fast bowlers. Preferably alive and kicking. Yes, you are reading this in SA, where quality quicks have been as common as corruption since at least 1652.

The corruption, that is. Not the quicks, who came later. And kept coming – from Krom Hendricks to Peter Heine and Neil Adcock to Mike Procter (OK, he was borrowed from what we now call Zimbabwe), Garth le Roux, Vinnie Barnes, Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and now Kagiso Rabada.

So, fast bowlers? Wanted? In SA? Says who? Says what has happened on SA’s tour to India.

“At the moment we only have three fit seamers in Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott,” Russell Domingo said on Friday. “So with Dale (Steyn) still struggling with a groin injury we decided to bring Marchant (de Lange) in as cover so we are prepared in case one of the three breaks down.”

Since his 30th birthday two Junes go, Steyn has lurched from one injury to another. Groin strain are notoriously slow to heal and he could yet be out of the third test in Nagpur on Wednesday.

What Steyn means to SA’s cause was audible between the lines of what Hashim Amla said – and tried not to say – after the second test was drawn in Bangalore on Wednesday.

“I’m not 100% sure what the exact prognosis is on Dale. It would be great if he is ready for the next test. It would be great to have the world’s No.1 bowler back in our team.”

Steyn remains a threat to even the best batsmen because he is as close to a force of nature as a player can be. But, having climbed a mountain of a career, he is on his way down from the summit. His belief burns as brightly as ever, but his body begs to differ.

Philander, too, has been a stellar performer able to make the most out of the slightest smidgen of seam movement. But he has twice been a late withdrawal from tests, and at the 2015 World Cup his hamstring caused all the trouble.

None of which is as bizarre as standing on Dean Elgar’s foot during a football game and tearing ankle ligaments, which is why Philander’s tour of India ended before the second test.

At 31, Morne Morkel’s thoughts will sooner rather than later turn away from marking out his own run-up and towards doing so for his son, Arias, in the back garden.

SA’s best purveyor of bounce has gotten away with fewer injury issues than he might have considering his 1.96 metre frame. But real life beyond cricket is beckoning.

Kyle Abbott seems to see a bigger future for himself in England, what with him asking Cricket SA for permission to play for Worcestershire from July to September next year – which would take him out of the picture for two tests against New Zealand in August and a couple of one-day internationals against Ireland and Australia.

Granted, that glass-half-empty scenario suggests scenes from a zombie western movie called “The Quicks and the Dead”.

Instead, and for now, it’s a wanted poster.


One thought on “Wanted: the quicks, not the dead

  1. Hi Telford,

    Proctor wasn’t ‘borrowed’ from Zimbabwe, he was a South African, from Natal. Sure, he played for Rhodesia, but that was in the 1970s, after his Test career ended.


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