Dane Piedt is shocked at his exclusion from the Test squad, as he looks to work his way back to form with his struggling Cobras side.
The off-spinner was dealt a heavy blow when selectors decided to select Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi for the Test squad to take on Australia Down Under at his expense.
Contrast to Piedt’s expensive bowling figures for the Cobras this season, Maharaj’s recent form with the ball, and even the bat, has been impressive. The Dolphins left-arm orthodox bowler managed to take his best match figures of 13-157 and score 72 in his side’s first Sunfoil Series clash against the Warriors.
Shamsi boasted a consistent conversion rate for SA A in the Quadrangular One-day series in August, taking wickets regularly while keeping runs against him at a minimum. He performed well for the ODI side who whitewashed Australia, taking 3-36 in SA’s fourth victory, including the wicket of Australia captain Steve Smith.
Piedt might well consider himself a tad unfortunate not to have made the cut due to his involvement with the national side in recent years. The 26-year-old first received his national call-up in 2014 after a successful 2013-14 Sunfoil Series campaign, where he topped the bowling standings with 45 wickets. He made his Test debut against Zimbabwe the following season, taking an impressive eight wickets.
The Proteas spinner took a wicket in each innings in his last Test match against New Zealand this year. He didn’t let himself down, but due to the performances of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, he was used sparingly. With a record of 24 wickets in seven matches at an average of 36.04, he believes his performances did not merit exclusion.
Talking exclusively to SAcricketmag.com, Piedt is honest in showing his astonishment at being left out of the squad.
‘It came as a big surprise to me,’ he says. ‘I never expected to be excluded from the squad as I thought my performances had been good when I have played.
‘I can’t control what selectors decide and I have no regrets on my national performances. All I can do now is work hard and continue to perform domestically for the Cobras.’
Unfortunately for him, the Cobras’ recent form has been sub-par. The Cape-based side is chained to the bottom of the Sunfoil Series log and the only winless team in this season’s campaign. Piedt will have to stand out in a low-morale side if he aims to prove the national selectors wrong.
‘Our problem is that we haven’t clicked yet and we need to find a way to get connected and come together as a team,’ he says.
‘We have some young additions to the squad but that just means senior players have to put their hands up and perform.’
Piedt’s Test exclusion might have come as an even bigger blow considering his regular involvement in the recent SA A tour of Australia A, where he took three wickets in the pink-ball Test in August. He was the frontline spinner for the side, with all signs pointing towards him as the man to lead the line for the upcoming Test series.
SA A were thoroughly outplayed on that tour, despite boasting a number of players in the current Test side, including Vernon Philander and Wayne Parnell. Piedt isn’t a fan of the pink ball and believes it’s going to be tough for the bowlers to adjust to it, come the third test in Adelaide on November 28.
‘I’m not really a fan of the pink ball; it’s really soft,’ he admits. ‘I played with it a bit in Australia for SA A, and they had to make the pitch greener so that the ball doesn’t receive as much damage.
‘It’s the way forward so I guess we have to conform and jump on the bandwagon, but I’m not a fan of it.’
The Cobras will face the Dolphins on Thursday as they try to salvage some positives out of their blemished campaign. Piedt will have to start all over again as he aims to get his Test status back.
Written by Khalid Mohidin