Cricket South Africa on Monday announced the list of contracted Proteas men’s players for the upcoming 2020-21 season. ANDRE HUISAMEN looks at the few unlucky players who missed out.
The biggest surprise of them all, as Klaasen’s performances in the three ODIs against Australia definitely warranted a contract. The Proteas had been sub-par for most of the summer and finally a player came and put his hand up by letting his bat do the talking. Klaasen finished as the highest run-scorer and walked away with the Player of the Series award following scores of 123*, 51 and 68*. He also made a singular appearance in the final T20I against England in Centurion where he top-scored with 66, meaning in the four limited-overs matches that he played for the national team this summer, he surpassed the half-century mark in each and every one of them. Hopefully the upgrade system that is in place, where a player can earn a contract throughout the season, will work in his favour when cricket resumes.
Another player who put his hand up in the series against the Aussies. Malan made his debut in ODI cricket for the Proteas in the first match in Paarl and was sent packing first ball after being trapped in front by Mitchell Starc. But, he responded brilliantly in Bloemfontein a few days later with a match-winning century, which clinched the series for the Proteas.
Aiden Markram’s injury during the first Test against England at SuperSport Park meant Malan was eventually rewarded for his efforts in the domestic game. A brilliant 84 in the second innings during the second Test at Newlands showed what the right-hander is capable of but he failed to replicate that innings in the following two matches. Should the scheduled Test series against Sri Lanka and West Indies go ahead this year, then Malan could prove his worth under the upgrade system for a national contract.
Although Steyn retired from Test and ODI cricket, it was rather surprising not to see his name on the list of contracted players anymore. Should the T20 World Cup go ahead at the end of the year in Australia, then Steyn’s influence on the Proteas’ chances of success will be enormous given his experience. It is also probably the final season South African fans will see Steyn represent his country …
Smuts struggled to hit his straps down the order in the ODI team for the majority of the matches against England and Australia, until the final encounter in Potch where his defiant knock of 84 and two wickets steered the hosts to a series whitewash. That performance would’ve given him a great deal of confidence, which he was searching for all summer and he finally looked at ease in national colours.