There’s been a bit of a controversy regarding the quota system in South Africa recently. Haroon Lorgat apparently sent Russell Domingo a text message before the New Zealand – South Africa semi-final. CSA denied this, but went on to admit that the quota system (which requires four players of “colour” to be part of the playing XI) is still being used even though it was officially removed in 2007.
While the use of the quota system on the national team is not appreciated by many and has bigger drawbacks than benefits, it’s there to stay. Luckily, there are now a lot of talented players of colour in the first class system who would make it to the team on merit anyway. Some of these include:
I wrote a bit about Rabada in my last article. In summary, he is tipped to be the next big thing – the next Dale Steyn. He bowls over 140kmph and swings the ball both ways. He’s had a great start to his career. He has already played three T20Is and toured with the squad during the Zimbabwe Test. CSA has clearly realised he’s a gem, and he’s very close to breaking into the Test team. It might be a little early for him though, and many people suggest he plays just domestic cricket for another year.
Bavuma is a talented middle order batsman. He has scored heavily in the past 2 years and has already played one test. He did not have a good debut, but had a great Sunfoil Series. His stats may not show it but he has improved a lot in the past few years. He might not be able to retain his place in the squad with the return of JP Duminy and Stiaan van Zyl’s success in his first series, but he is definitely a batsman to look out for.
Piedt was impressive on his debut vs Zimbabwe. With Imran Tahir’s unsuccessful run as South Africa’s frontline (and only) spinner, he is most likely to be a regular in the test side. Simon Harmer was also great on his debut vs West Indies but Piedt was the selector’s first choice anyway. Piedt hasn’t been able to find his rhythm so far since his return from injury but when he does, he’ll be a great addition to complement the pace attack. A lot will depend on how Hashim Amla uses him.
He hasn’t been his normal self since he recovered from his last injury. Hendricks in full flow has the potential to become one of the best fast bowlers in the world. He has a fantastic First Class record and bowls left-arm fast. He has played 5 T20Is but didn’t have a particularly great outing. If he finds his old rhythm again he needs to be drafted in right away, even if it’s for one of the random T20 series we keep playing. He has shown signs of getting back to form recently, and could be back to his best very soon.
Shezi got a well-deserved chance vs Zimbabwe in the ODI series right after the single Test match last year. He bowled really well, registering figures of 6-2-8-1. He might not get another shot for a while, but is also a talented limited overs bowler to look out for.
Williams is one of the best young fast bowlers in the country. He’s just 21 and has already played a bunch of 4-day matches for the Cape Cobras. He has done really well so far and along with Rabada, is the future of our bowling attack.
Khaya Zondo is an all-rounder who has improved a lot in the last two years. Zondo is a middle order batsman who bowls off-spin. However, with JP Duminy already chipping in with his more than handy part-time off-spin. His stats suggest he is very average, but has gotten much better recently. A few people are already calling for his selection but he has a very long way to go.
Imran Tahir’s incredible success in limited overs formats may have blocked the way for Eddie Leie for now. He also bowls leg-breaks and would have been a valuable addition to the squad for the next T20 World Cup. Like Kagiso Rabada, Lonwabo Tsotsobe (when fit), Hardus Viljoen, Temba Bavuma and Chris Morris, Lieie is a regular in the Lion’s squad. He has been successful in T20s so far and is worth a shot when Imran Tahir retires. He has tough completion though, with Dane Piedt and Simon Harmer, who have already played a Test each and are likely to get a spot in the ODI and T20 squad after Tahir.
There are a few more players of “colour” coming through, but are yet to get as good as one of the ones listed above. One of these is Omphile Ramela, who had a very mediocre start to career but has since improved significantly and could be a batsman to look out for in the future. Keshav Maharaj is a slow left arm orthodox bowler who also has a decent record. He’s young and could also provide variety to the bowling attack.
One of the unluckiest cricketers of the post-readmission era is Lonwabo Tsotsobe. He earned a call up and became the number one ODI bowler in the world for a whole year. However, he got injured after the 2013 home series against India. He wasn’t able to get fit in time for the World Cup. And even then, he has not been anywhere near his best since he recovered. Tsotsobe last played competitive cricket earlier in December 2014. Tsotsobe has always had his fitness and stamina issues going against him. This was even worse because he relies on movement of the ball and before the new ODI rules, he had to bowl most of his overs at the beginning.
Unfortunately, South Africa plays so few Tests that we end up playing a full strength team in every Test we play. If we played four or five Test series like India, Australia and England, we could mix up things a little and give more chances to cricketers like Kagiso Rabada, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dane Paterson, and Rilee Rossouw. It’s already sad that in South Africa the first thing that is checked is the player’s race before his skills and achievements.
The quota system in the domestic set-up has so far lived up to its purpose. Some talented players have finally come through and the little bit of racism that was apparently still existent has been eliminated. However, CSA recently decided to increase the quota requirements, from five to six in franchise cricket (including three black Africans) and from six to seven in provincial cricket (including four black Africans). This creates a massive disadvantage for any white cricketers who may be more talented than some of the cricketers in the playing XI.