• Parnell – what could have been

    Wayne Parnell deserved another go at international level. Instead, he is another lost to a Kolpak contract, writes JONHENRY WILSON.

    He should have featured in Cricket South Africa’s so-called ‘Vision 2019’, which is exploring the bench strength ahead of next year’s World Cup.

    He hadn’t played international cricket since 2017, when favour from the selectors eventually ran out. Second chances expired, but third and fourth should have been afforded to a player of such talent and versatility.

    Parnell had progressed through the transgressions of the past, and recent remarks all but insisted the maturity and levelheadedness that he once lacked are now evident. Several key contributions to Worcestershire’s triumphant Vitality Blast campaign, too, spoke of his ability and willingness to walk the talk. This wasn’t the case during a punctuated career with the Proteas, but head coach Ottis Gibson seemed willing to manage a player of Parnell’s ilk. Gibson became familiar with cricketers who blew hot and cold – in mood and performance – during his time with the West Indies.

    Gibson’s predecessors arguably mismanaged Parnell’s role in the T20I and ODI XIs, as well. Robin Petersen, Justin Ontong, David Wiese and even Albie Morkel walked similarly awkward paths. They were fixed to certain positions in the batting order for some situations and floated up and down for others. Roles with the ball also ebbed and flowed. Farhaan Behardien, with the bat, is suffering the same poor handling. This does not absolve Parnell, Behardien and others of criticism, but the team management can always do better with communication and expectation.

    An eventual recall for Parnell could have yielded the opportunity for Gibson and company to resurrect an international career headed for its closing throes.

    Strict decisions on the specific deployment of the all-rounder would have had to follow. The aggressive left-hander could have been used up the order in a pinch-hitting role or later as a finisher, not both. He should have taken the new ball to pursue early wickets, not play a holding role through the middle overs. A cricketer of such volatility – good and bad – required permanence and structure, not fleeting choices according to circumstance and scenario.

    ‘There is a lot more maturity to his game these days. He is in his later 20s and married, maybe that has made the difference. He is ready,’ said former Proteas batsman and current Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince as early as 2017.

    Prince knew then what has effectively come to fruition now, but for Worcestershire and English county cricket in general, rather than the Proteas.

    Alas. Pity.

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