TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
A real-life company out there is selling money with the help of a slogan that says, “Consistency is the only currency that matters.” Then there’s Oscar Wilde, who famously said, “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
Confused? So is Wayne Parnell, according to another left-arm fast bowler.
“When he started playing he swung the ball beautifully,” Stephen Jefferies said on Monday. “That’s one of a left-armer’s biggest assets: if you swing the ball back into the right-hander there’s a big chance of getting him lbw.
“Somehow he’s lost that. He seems to be bowling across the wicket to more slips. That’s where I think the inconsistency comes in.
“He does swing it every now and again but he doesn’t do it enough. I don’t know what the coaches are doing to try and get him to get that swing back.
“Once you get that back you’ve got a good chance of becoming more consistent and taking more wickets.
“If Parnell gets that ability back the sky’s the limit for him. He’s shown that he can bat and if you can both bat and bowl you should never be left out of the side, especially if you are consistently taking wickets. At the moment he’s not consistent enough to be there.”
Not that Jefferies thinks the blame belongs wholly to the player.
“In one-day cricket guys seem to be concentrating purely on bowling straight. That’s why they’re losing the ability to swing it. The best pressure in the world is getting a couple of wickets up front.
“I wouldn’t mind going for seven or eight runs an over if I get three wickets in three overs.
“But it’s not as easy as that. It’s about technique and rhythm and the way you hold the ball, the wrist position and everything else. A lot of things need to be in place.
“Parnell knows what to do but I think he’s being pressured into bowling across the wicket or straight.”
Having last played for SA in a T20 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in July, Parnell has missed the national team’s last 10 tests and their last 22 matches in the shorter formats. He also does not feature in the squad for the World T20 in India next month.
Anyone who saw his meltdown in SA’s World Cup match against India in February – when he was smashed for 11 fours and a six in nine overs in which he took 1/85 – won’t be surprised at Parnell’s ongoing absence.
He looked out of his depth, and Russell Domingo said earlier this month he had been sent back to franchise cricket to sort himself out. The good news is that he seems to be doing exactly that.
Parnell was joint third among wicket-takers in the One-Day Cup this season with 16 scalps at an average of 23.00 and an economy rate of 4.83.
Better yet, there was evidence in the final of that competition between the Cobras and the Lions at Newlands on Sunday that his mojo is on its way back.
What with the Lions chasing only 170 to win, there was nowhere for the Cobras’ bowlers to hide. But Parnell’s return of 2/36 from eight overs was fuelled by a touch of the swing Jefferies spoke about.
Just a touch, and not consistently enough to count as the hard currency of a return to top form. But enough to fire the imagination of what might yet be.