Lack-lus­tre dis­plays by both player see them omit­ted from Test squad for Eng­land se­ries

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS

THE rugby ca­reer of Sharks and Spring­bok flyhalf Pa­trick Lam­bie, hangs in the bal­ance af­ter the rev­e­la­tion yes­ter­day that the 26-year-old will not play rugby again this year be­cause of an on-go­ing con­cus­sion is­sue.

Yes­ter­day Sharks CEO Gary Te­ich­mann said that while med­i­cal ad­vice con­tin­ues to de­ter­mine the future of the 56-Test Bok, a break from the game for the rest of this year would be in the best in­ter­ests of the player.

“We are in the hands of the med­i­cal ex­perts but it seems un­likely that Pat will play for the Sharks (and Spring­boks) again this year,” the CEO said. “It is very sad that our cap­tain can­not play but the mat­ter is with the ex­perts in this field (con­cus­sion), and it looks like Pat must take a long rest from rugby. It goes with­out say­ing that Pat is be­ing mon­i­tored by the lead­ing physi­cians in this field. We can only hope that he will fully re­cover af­ter a long break, and we leave the mat­ter in the hands of the pro­fes­sion­als.”

The un­lucky Lam­bie has been strug­gling with in­jury prob­lems over the years, in­clud­ing a bi­cep tear, in­jury to neck ver­te­brae, a heavy con­cus­sion af­ter a col­li­sion with Ireland flank CJ Stander this time last year, a heavy knock suf­fered when he was struck ac­ci­den­tally by a Waratahs player and then there was another heavy col­li­sion with one of his own team-mates in a freak ac­ci­dent in a Su­per Rugby match against the Kings.

The coura­geous Lam­bie has not an­nounced his re­tire­ment from rugby but we know that he will not play again this year. –

SOUTH Africa’s cricket se­lec­tors have seem­ingly run out of pa­tience with Wayne Par­nell, while Stephen Cook’s lack of run-scor­ing out­put at Durham have cost both play­ers their spots in a 16man squad named yes­ter­day for the four Tests against Eng­land.

In their stead, Ai­den Markram, Heino Kuhn and Andile Phehluk­wayo will all be given an op­por­tu­nity for a se­ries which will likely start with Dean El­gar cap­tain­ing the team at Lord’s in the first Test start­ing next Thurs­day. Faf du Plessis looks like he’ll miss that match as his wife Imari, awaits the birth of the cou­ple’s first child.

For Cook, it ap­pears his Test ca­reer may be over af­ter just 11 games. It was al­ways likely to be a bit of a ‘stop­gap’ pick, as the se­lec­tors waited for Markram to ma­ture but it’s still been a shorter stint than ei­ther the player or the se­lec­tion panel would have wanted. Last sum­mer Cook wasn’t at his best – al­though he made two cen­turies – and his strug­gles in New Zealand ac­cel­er­ated calls for his ax­ing. In an at­tempt to re­store some con­fi­dence, and to please the se­lec­tors, he took up a stint at Durham in the English County com­pe­ti­tion, but an av­er­age of 26.76 in 14 in­nings with just two half-cen­turies was never go­ing to be enough par­tic­u­larly with Kuhn draw­ing at­ten­tion his way with some sparkling per­for­mances for the SA A side, which con­cluded its tour of Eng­land at the week­end.

The 33-year-old right han­der, who’s played seven T20 In­ter­na­tion­als, scored a cen­tury and a double cen­tury in a cou­ple of four-day games for the ‘A ‘side, while there was also an un­beaten 81 in a one-day game against the Eng­land Lions as well.

Kuhn’s se­lec­tion goes be­yond just what he achieved on the tour how­ever. He also cov­ers the re­serve wicket-keeper spot and can bat any­where in the top six. South Africa will face the Eng­land Lions in a four-day game start­ing Thurs­day with Kuhn likely to part­ner El­gar at the top of the or­der while The­u­nis de Bruyn will prob­a­bly slot in at No5 in Du Plessis’ ab­sence.

Kuhn’s ar­guably been the most con­sis­tent player on the do­mes­tic scene in the last two sea­sons. In the 2015/16 sum­mer he scored 1126 runs when the Ti­tans won the Sun­foil Se­ries while last sea­son his re­turn of 527 runs came at an av­er­age of 43.91.

Par­nell’s in­con­sis­tency has cost him his place in the Test squad. His con­fi­dence took a bat­ter­ing in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy and in the only T20 match he played in the re­cent se­ries against the English he con­ceded 26 runs in two overs. His po­ten­tial and his pro­duc­tiv­ity dif­fer dras­ti­cally – when he’s good, the 27-year-old is very good but when he’s bad he’s aw­ful and a cap­tain can­not af­ford such a dra­matic dif­fer­en­tial in the Test arena.

Par­nell has now dropped be­low Chris Mor­ris and 21-year-old Phehluk­wayo in SA’s all-rounder ranks, and even though Par­nell’s bowl­ing, when he’s on song, maybe more dy­namic than the other two, who­ever cap­tains the Proteas will trust that Mor­ris and Phehluk­wayo can stick to a plan for a rea­son­able amount of time.

In Phehluk­wayo’s case he cer­tainly seems to have grown as an in­ter­na­tional crick­eter since mak­ing his de­but last sum­mer. How he fares in the first class arena is some­thing of a mys­tery given he’s had very lit­tle ex­po­sure to long form cricket hav­ing only played 24 first class matches. Last sea­son he rep­re­sented the Dol­phins five times in the Sun­foil Se­ries, but his statis­tics from those matches didn’t set the com­pe­ti­tion a light.

For now, he along with Mor­ris, is be­ing viewed as cover for Ver­non Phi­lan­der who dam­aged his an­kle and last played for Sus­sex two weeks ago. Be­fore then Phi­lan­der had had a lengthy pe­riod on the side­lines with a groin in­jury – and there will be con­cerns about his fit­ness for a four-Test se­ries.

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