Surprises in the SA “A” Squad

The South African A side has been selected a short tour to Zimbabwe for two 4 day matches. A perfect opportunity to blood the youngsters and see who is pushing for a place in the upcoming tour to Pakistan. Its not often South Africa can send a young side to the wrong side of the Limpopo river for some bonding and a more than likely confidence boost for thrashing the helpless Zimbabweans.

So many names rush to my mind as to which players are knocking on the door in the selectors eyes before seeing the side. Will they let Vernon Philander develop a bit more? Has Ontong been given another chance to play in the longer form of the game? Surely with only two four day games, the essence of the squad will be those brought in to help South Africa’s dismal recent performances in this arena. We have climbed the rankings as India and Pakistan fell, so without a game being played South Africa moved from 6th to tie 4th!!!

When I saw the side, it seemed like a veterans side, until I noticed Neil McKenzie wasn’t part of it. It turns out that he is already playing in the long version of the game for Somerset in the County Championship.  With all the wisdom gained from years of insightful choices our selectors decided to top previous questionable decisions by selecting a squad of players with more experience than the current Zimbabwe test line-up.

The only thing I can be thankful of is Lorgat hasn’t come up with another 5 foot under player like Paul Adams. Adams is still the best spinner we have had since re-admission and was fantastic but he had fallen into the pit of anonymity, not being seen as a regular for the Cobras then lo and behold he was recalled into the squad and co-incidentally brought about the resignation of Boje.

The squad selected already went through another moment of embarassment when there was however a late substitution with Friedel de Wet getting axed for Johan Botha, which is a huge shame and disappointment for the Lions player after being told he was selected.

Here is the SA A squad: Boeta Dippenaar (c), Yusuf Abdullah, Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Andrew Hall, Paul Harris, Imran Khan, Charl Langeveldt, André Nel, Justin Ontong, Alviro Petersen, Aswell Prince, Thami Tsolekile and Morné van Wyk.

There are a few things you can read from the squad selection. The players chosen are more than likely not going to play in the Pro20 world cup, thus the logical conclusion is Philander will play in the Pro20, Garnet Kruger is not considered part of the future plans nor is Roger Telemachus. Finally and painfully so, South Africa are not testing out any new captains nor coaches for the new future.

Its good to see the spinners selected, and to see some talented youngsters joining the battle hardened veterans. Peterson and van Wyk certainly deserve higher honours, and our middle order at test level needs serious re-wiring.

The first four-day game is on 9 to 12 August and the second from Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th August 2007.