Playing overseas has huge financial benefits, but the workloads are unrelenting, and CSA must accept that and prepare accordingly.
I enjoy the packed schedules that come with playing in England. It’s tough and you have to stay on top of your game. With 18 counties, it means that you might play up to 10 days of cricket out of 11 and it could include all three formats. As much as it challenges you mentally, it also challenges you physically, as you want to maintain your intensity at all times.
Playing a lot of cricket can be beneficial to the players because when you play well, you can just continue with your good form, but at the same time, when you are out of form, it gives you an opportunity to play yourself back into form. It’s a great test of character – in my opinion county-level cricket in England is the closest thing to international cricket from a mental point of view.
Kagiso Rabada is currently going through this at the moment with Kent. It’s been a hectically busy period for him so far. In his first nine days, he played four Natwest T20 Blast matches and one county match! He could play as many as seven more matches until the end of the month before he teams up with the Proteas for the NZ series. It’s a lot of cricket, but you can’t stop these guys from doing this. If you are an overseas player and you don’t have an agreement with the county regarding rest days, you just have to earn your pound, like Rabada, and he’ll be happy to do that.
This, together with the Saffas who are currently playing in the Caribbean Premier League, is obviously something that has irked CSA and Proteas coach Russell Domingo, because he believes the amount of cricket that the guys are playing is affecting their performances for the national side. I think he has a point and it probably does affect their ability to perform consistently. However, it’s the same for all countries. The vast majority of the top international players across the formats played in the IPL. As I wrote in my column earlier in the year, CSA run the risk of losing their top players, because generally the players would rather play in the lucrative T20 leagues around the world and not for their country, and you can’t blame them.
As Mark Salter touched on in his recent column, the Proteas face an exodus of players in the near future if CSA don’t accept that the players want to earn foreign cash. A similar thing has of course happened to several of the coaches in recent times. On that note, I wish Rob Walter well in NZ. He has really transformed the Titans into a powerhouse in SA cricket, and credit must go to the outstanding leadership of Jacques Faul for creating the right atmosphere for players and coaches to perform at their peak. Titans have shown that off the field they are prepared to lead with innovative ideas and a quality business, as well as support the development of the game. SA have lost Walter, but again, you can’t begrudge him exploring new and potentially more profitable ventures.
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