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Thu Apr 24 14:45:43 SAST 2014

Starting over is not the end

Firdose Moonda | 19 September, 2012 06:140 Comments

A(NOTHER) new beginning awaits South African cricket tomorrow.

The highs of being world No1 and being awarded the mace will remain as proud memories, but the "process," as Gary Kirsten calls it, has moved forward. International Cricket Council silverware is the next goal, but Kirsten does not have as solid a squad as he did for the tests against England.

Unlike the aura of the test top seven, who stood as imposingly as the wonders of the world, the T20 batting order is more brittle.

Ironically, its weak spot is its strongest looking player.

Since his sensational innings in Hamilton earlier in the year, Richard Levi and a cricket bat have been as disconnected as telephone lines in an electric storm.

He can hit the ball hard, but he seems to only be able to do one side of the field. Unless he is able to find the offside soon, Levi may have to do what Vernon Philander and JP Duminy did to be worthy of a place in the national side again: go back to domestic cricket.

Potchefstroom is likely to be the furthest place from Levi's mind tomorrow, but he may benefit from glancing at it on the map when he checks the weather report.

It may remind him that his team, the Cape Cobras, are beginning their first-class campaign there. They start against a new-look Lions side who claim to finally have an attack that can take 20 wickets. Followers of domestic cricket will believe that when they see it.

While South Africa begin competition in a major tournament, Paul Adams and Geoffrey Toyana will take charge of their first franchise matches. Alviro Petersen, Imran Tahir and Vernon Philander will want to build form ahead of South Africa's tour to Australia; Monde Zondeki will want to show he is back and, apart from a few students and some Sunfoil executives, no one will be watching.

No one was watching when Philander took 96 wickets in two seasons either, or when Duminy scored a double hundred. Lamentable as it is, it does not matter as long as the selectors are watching - and they are. Since last season, one of them has been present at every first-class match around the country.

The result is that the days when talented players were spotted and rushed into the national set-up are not altogether gone. Marchant de Lange is one example, but examples are few and far between. Morne Morkel played 15 first-class matches before he made his test debut, Philander played 70.

He is proof that domestic cricket does provide a proper breeding ground for international players.

Petersen called South Africa's franchise system one of the best in the world because it creates enough intensity for cricketers to learn while being challenged.

The six franchises are all centres for new beginnings and second comings. If Levi fails in Sri Lanka, he must know there is nothing wrong with starting again, and the Cobras is not the worst place to do that. Just ask Philander.

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Starting over is not the end

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Thu Apr 24 14:45:43 SAST 2014 ::