Dichotomy… ‘picking and choosing’ , take a break
WHEN is “picking and choosing” not “picking and choosing”? Apparently when it’s AB de Villiers, err, “picking and choosing”. Then it’s called “schedule management” or something. Maybe it’s because De Villiers hasn’t been around the national team for a while that he’s lost touch with how it operates nowadays, but there is an awareness from players, coaching staff, selectors and Cricket SA that it’s important to manage the players’ schedules.
We saw it after the Australia series, much to the chagrin of the Gauteng Cricket Board who wanted to use Kagiso Rabada in the play-off game of the T20 Challenge. They were informed by CSA’s medical committee that following the Test matches in Australia, Rabada was in the “red zone”, and needed a break. So Rabada didn’t play for his franchise.
We are seeing it again now; Rabada, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock will play no part in the three T20 Internationals against Sri Lanka, with an eye to keeping them fresh for the five One-Day Internationals, the first of which will be played on January 28.
Much the same is likely to happen for the T20s in New Zealand too. Cricket SA’s coaching staff and the selectors have prioritised the Champions Trophy in England in June.
De Villiers wants to manage his schedule through to the 2019 World Cup. And to do that it appears he wants to lessen his load in the Test format. More than that, there are Tests he wants to be available for, and others he doesn’t. So the three Tests in New Zealand in March are a no. As are the four Tests in England. Four Tests against India? Well maybe, and who knows perhaps his new bat sponsor, an Indian company, may push him to play those.
The problem for CSA is this – it looks like De Villiers is getting preferential treatment and if others see it that way, then what’s to stop them demanding something similar. Rabada, for example, could go: “I bowl fast, it’s very taxing on my body, I don’t want to play the two Tests against Bangladesh in September, I shouldn’t be needed against them at home anyway.” That won’t happen as Rabada’s too new on the international scene for that kind of thing, but he’d almost be more justified in picking and choosing – or managing his schedule – than De Villiers. After all, when it comes to fast bowling and batting, the demands are hugely different.
Cricket SA cannot allow players to dictate terms as it seems De Villiers is doing now. They have already shown this season they do understand the physical, mental and emotional demands put on players and, when necessary, are happy for them to have a break. It would be good if De Villiers recognised it as such, and played along in that system.