• Bring back Botha

    I see Johan Botha is doing well for South Australia again. He should be back in the South Africa set-up.

    Last week he secured a career-best innings haul in First-Class cricket – and he continues to produce the goods with the bat. Botha could slot in wonderfully in the South African team now. He would do wonders for the spin department and add to the batting, where he scores 30s and 40s with great regularity. He is a great fielder and a knowledgeable guy too.

    I was sad to see him go back then, when Cricket South Africa let him go. He just wanted to know if he had a future or contract with South Africa. I think they jumped the gun and thought he was a bit arrogant in asking those sorts of questions – and they let him go. He should be in the squad now. He would make a big difference and could even have been captain, having done the job so well in international cricket on previous occasions. His track record is excellent.

    It is a tragedy he is not with South Africa now. I know he has not retired from international cricket – and there was no fallout of any nature, but it is a pity they let him go to Australia. South Africa could definitely do with him now. He is a top-class guy and should even be in the World Cup squad.

    Meanwhile, the ODI series against the Australians continues – and after a bad loss the Proteas hit back with a big win. While Morne Morkel’s star performance is a big plus, the struggles of the opening batsmen is a big concern. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock have struggled with the hard and fast conditions, which have looked after the South African bowlers. What has been good for Morkel has not been good for De Kock – and the Aussie bowlers have been quick to get on top of him.

    The series will move away from Perth now, onto Canberra and Sydney, where the pitches will be a bit slower. The decision to rest Mitchell Johnson for the third one-dayer will help the Proteas a bit too, but really the top-order batsmen need to get some bigger runs.

    The balance of the side is a bit worrying as well. It’s great to see David Miller getting more opportunities, but this business of leaving Ryan McLaren out and playing Farhaan Behardien ahead of Rilee Rossouw on occasion is not right. McLaren must play all or most of the games, while Rossouw is a better pick than Behardien. I’m still not convinced by Imran Tahir – he continues to be a work in progress presumably.

    The arrival of Gary Kirsten as a batting consultant again will be a major boost for the South Africans. He will be with them up to and including the fourth match and is going to be of major value. He has a great policy of not interfering too much, simply backing the player and his ability. The players will only benefit from this.

    As for the International Cricket Council awards, I’m pleased to see AB de Villiers got the ODI Player of the Year accolade. He deserves this, and the contest was always going to be between him and Dale Steyn, rather than with other nominees De Kock and Virat Kohli. De Kock has a had a good year, yes, but De Villiers is so in touch with his game right now.

    He has all the right shots, the right frame of mind, the positivity required and all the other assets he brings. For South Africa to win the World Cup in Australia next year, De Villiers will be a major player.

    Photo: Backpagepix

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    Graeme Pollock