Selection timing can make or break a test career

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Timing is everything. Depending on when you get your dream call-up to represent the national side, your career could last a month or last a decade. The Proteas test opening position is a prime example of this.

I’ve been reading so many articles and Twitter feeds moaning about how poor Heino Kuhn was in England and he needs to be shown the door, with 22 year old, Aiden Markram the most popular replacement bring mentioned.

I agree, but disagree at the same time. Kuhn had an awful tour of England, only managing 113 runs in eight knocks which is not acceptable for an international opener. I just feel that his first-class record of 9,494 runs over 12 years, at an average 44 has earned him a second tour.

Timing was against Kuhn on this occasion, I’m convinced that whoever was selected to tour England as Dean Elgar’s opening partner was destined to struggle. Apart from a dust bowl in India, England must be the hardest place to tour, especially as an opening batsman. The Duke ball swings considerably more than the Kookaburra and the pitches are very different too.  The next tour is at home against Bangladesh – so whoever gets the nod for that, will probably fill their boots.

I’m a massive fan of Markram and believe that he is our future, but there’s nothing wrong with him going on tours and learning from the experienced players for a year or two. We’ll never know for sure, but there was a decent probability that if he had been the first choice opener in England that he would have failed too. In which case, everyone would have been saying that he wasn’t quite ready and Kuhn must get a run.

It’s not too different to the England opening situation. Apart from Keaton Jennings debut ton against India, he struggled massively in the series against the Proteas. In his defence, he had to face up against Philander and Morkel in peak form. He failed and the selectors called up Stoneman to take on the West Indies, and although he hasn’t scored a bucket load to date, the timing of his selection was far more favourable.

Stephen Cook was decent, but had a very poor technique for test cricket. He was given 11 tests to prove his worth and whilst his average of 33 wasn’t poor, it certainly wasn’t great and the selectors looked elsewhere. So if I was a Proteas selector, I’d be giving Heino Kuhn the nod for the Bangladesh series and see what he does in the two tests. If he fails, throw Markram in to play against India (If the series goes ahead). It will be tough, but it’s in SA, so not like we’re expecting his debut be against India, in India.

Worst case, give Dean Elgar a rest and tell him to spend some time with the family. Open with both Markram and Kuhn and watch them battle it out for a spot against India and Australia. But that seems a bit ridiculous.


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