Wiser Wayne set to go
Now he enjoys doing the job allocated to him in a team and lets the statistics take care of themselves
IT’S hard to know if tomorrow represents the third, fourth or even fifth coming of Wayne Parnell. The potential has always been there, the end product less so, and funnily enough, it’s the end product that’s the least of his concerns as he seeks to take advantage of getting another opportunity at the highest level.
A wiser Parnell faced the media at the Wanderers yesterday, keen to emphasise that in the seven years since he made his Test debut at that ground he’d learned that pace and taking wickets were mere outcomes.
Fulfilment could be found in simply doing the job expected of him and if the rewards went to someone else, then it wasn’t a big deal.
“Sometimes the public wants to see that 100 or that fiver but in the team the guys would know if I’ve executed my role,” Parnell said.
“If I take no wickets in this Test match but I’ve executed my role I’ll be happy with that but I’ll also be happy if I take a fiver. When I started in my career, I was more worried about the result and the stats but now I’m more focused on what the captain wants from me in a particular spell.”
It’s an attitude that seems to have served him well recently especially as he’s been playing more regularly for his franchise, the Cape Cobras.
“If you look back before last season, I’d play two games, then was back to touring with the Proteas... just playing consistently and implementing things I’d be working on in training and to see my groupings where I landed the ball and match figures and to see that hard work pay dividends has been pleasing.”
And so with injuries and Kolpak contracts hitting the Proteas’ attack, Parnell is back again for his fifth Test, now with an opportunity to cement a spot in the starting team which has a fairly busy schedule in the short to medium term with Tests in New Zealand and England.
“It’s not been frustrating for me,” Parnell said about not playing more often. “I don’t think in the past I was close to the playing XI, with the likes of Dale Steyn, who’s taken a couple of hundred wickets, Morne Morkel has done well, Vernon Philander has just taken his 150th wicket and Kagiso’s (Rabada) done well since he came into the side... there’s been bowlers ahead of me in the longer format. I’ve understood that.”
Coming off a four-day game for the Cobras where he bowled 46 overs on a slow pitch in Oudtshoorn, Parnell will be pleased that he can try and take advantage of what looks like being a Wanderers pitch tailor made for the quick bowlers.
There was a relatively thick grass covering on the surface yesterday, but depending on what the home team wanted it would either be left that way or shaved some time today.
Home town hero Stephen Cook, who calls the Wanderers a second home, said the pitch will quicken up as it bakes under the sun but that the groundsman was wary of cracks opening up after what had been – until last weekend at least – a very dry summer on the Highveld.
“This season, because it’s been drier there have been some cracks, but with the moisture now, those cracks might stay together a bit more, but there ought to be the usual pace and bounce. It may be a bit slow to start but from the second day it should quicken up,” Cook remarked.
The Lions skipper also said that given his experience of the ground he’d lean towards starting four seamers which would mean that in addition to Parnell, Duanne Olivier would make his debut.
“At the Lions every game here there is a debate about four seamers... spin has generally been ineffective in terms of taking wickets, but it has been used effectively to contain.
“Someone like Keshav (Maharaj) who has shown his ability to contain could do that job, and allow the quicks to really come in hard at the other end, so even if he doesn’t get the wickets he sort of ‘gets’ them for the seamers.
“We (the Lions) have gone in with an all seam attack at times and yes, it is a high risk strategy. If this was my attack, I’d probably go with four quicks.”
Sri Lanka’s Dhananjaya de Silva said that despite his side having suffered heavy defeats at the coast on slower surfaces, with less bounce than the Bullring, they were still looking forward to the challenge.
“We spent a lot of time in Sri Lanka preparing for fast and bouncy pitches and then in PE and Cape Town we got seaming wickets, we weren’t really prepared for that. This will suit us better I think,” said De Silva.