Warriors captain Jon-Jon Smuts says he believes he has a lot to offer the Proteas and can help them win the 2019 World Cup, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The Warriors had a solid 2017-18 domestic season. They reached the semi-final of the T20 Challenge, came second in the Sunfoil Series and shared the One-Day cup trophy with the Dolphins after a rained out final.
The general consensus about the Warriors is that they are an ‘underdog’ side due to the lack of Proteas players in their setup, but they squashed that label by competing for all trophies last season. Normally, a season as successful as theirs should rank them as the second-best franchise in the country and a majority of their players should receive national call-ups – unfortunately, that was not the case.
In an exclusive interview with SACricketmag.com, Smuts revealed his frustrations about the lack of Warriors players in the national setup and how that it is the ‘driving force’ behind their ambitions for the new season.
‘It would be great to say we want to win all three trophies but that’s a cliche. Sometimes you can go trophy-less but still achieve the goals you set out to achieve – being consistent, playing the big moments well, helping players get in the World Cup squad – by just playing how we want to play the game,’ said Smuts.
‘I know it’s a results game and you get judged by the number of trophies, but we also have to look at how the team grows.
‘For us once again [this season] we want to win trophies – because a lot of us don’t get picked in the national side – that is a driving force for us to win, because the national setup doesn’t seem to like the Warriors guys. But it’s about the end goal which is for us to play a positive brand of cricket and to really grow as a cricket team.’
Smuts is one Warriors player who has received international recognition in the past. He received eight T20 caps scoring 126 runs at an average of 15.75, a statistic that does not justify his ability in white-ball cricket.
It is, however, his 50-over capabilities that he hopes to gain recognition for, having led his side to the One-Day Cup trophy. After being crowned The South African Cricketers’ Association’s Most Valuable Player in domestic franchise cricket, it was surprising to Smuts that he was not named in the Proteas squads for the limited overs series against Zimbabwe.
‘It’s been a tough winter for me personally. To win the MVP of the season last year and not get into any [national] side or SA A side at all has been tough,’ he continued.
‘From the discussions I have had on top there, it sounds like I have had my chance there and I’m done. I feel that’s a bit harsh, considering I only played eight games for the national side and three for SA A in my career. It’s a tough pill to swallow.
‘I still have the ambition to play there, I still believe I have a lot to offer to the side and still believe I could help South Africa win the World Cup. But at the end of the day, I can’t control it – selectors have to select you before you can put performances in for the national side and its just one of the things. I have to make sure I keep looking after my skill – if it comes it comes and if it doesn’t it doesn’t.
‘I would love to get an opportunity against some side to show what I can do in the ODI setup. I think that I am a slightly better player in the one-day setup than in the T20 setup. If you look at my stats in the last few years it would probably prove that as well. It would be really nice to be back in the mix, with all the performances I have put in over the last number of years. But I can only control what I can and leave the rest up to selectors.’
Batting and fielding statistics
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