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‘I literally was competing only with white players’ – Jonty Rhodes

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Jonty Rhodes, the former South Africa batsman, has admitted that he might not have been picked to play for his country had it not been for white privilege.

“I certainly benefited from the fact that I wasn’t really competing with 50% of the population,” Rhodes said in a recent interaction with The Hindu, Deccan Herald and The New Indian Express in Bengaluru. “I literally was competing only with the white players.

“You talk about white privilege and it raises a lot of heat and debate on social media but it is the case. I’m very aware of that. My cricketing statistics as a player were very average when I was selected.

“If I was competing with the rest of the country then possibly I wouldn’t have been picked. And I would not have been diving around the field.”

Rhodes was part of the first, mostly white generation of post-Apartheid South Africa internationals. The racial composition of the team has changed in the years since, with quotas coming into place for players of colour. The current transformation target for the national team is for six players of colour, including two black Africans, to feature per match, averaged over a season.

Rhodes is in full support of transformation quotas.

“We in South Africa have a legacy of apartheid,” he said. “How many generations does it take to address that? You still have disadvantaged communities based on race. So they might have political freedom but they don’t have economic freedom.”

The process of transformation hasn’t been straightforward, with several players, mostly white, giving up on playing for South Africa in order to take up lucrative Kolpak contracts in English county cricket. This has led to a depletion in the pool of talent and experience, particularly at domestic level, which may be one of the reasons behind South Africa’s poor results over recent months.

Since the start of 2019, they have lost a home Test series to Sri Lanka, failed to get past the league stage of the ODI World Cup in England, and suffered a 3-0 Test whitewash on their tour of India. They currently trail England 2-1 in a Test series at home.

Rugby has had a smoother ride with transformation, and a Springboks team led by Siya Kolisi, their first black captain, and featuring six players of colour, won last year’s World Cup in Japan. Rhodes believes rugby has done a better job than cricket has of reaching out to disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

“The biggest question for me is why in over 20 years have we not produced opportunities for young players in disadvantaged communities,” he said. “It’s not about racism. It’s about equal opportunity and that’s not happening.

“What rugby has done well is in building their structures, working in disadvantaged areas. Cricket has a lot to learn.”



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England seamers not feeling the pressure despite lacklustre start to series – Chris Jordan

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Chris Jordan has insisted that England’s fast bowlers do not feel as though they are playing for their places in their series in South Africa.

Jofra Archer is missing from the T20I leg of this tour due to an elbow injury, while Pat Brown, the death specialist who debuted against New Zealand in November, would have joined up with this squad but for a back injury.

But despite two death-bowling specialists lurking on the sidelines, Jordan does not feel that he, Tom Curran and Mark Wood are competing against one another in South Africa.

ALSO READ: ‘Experiences like this are so valuable’ – Morgan

“One of the hallmarks of this team is that whoever is playing at the time is trying to keep their standards as high as possible,” Jordan said.

“I don’t think that the environment has been created in such a way to feel that pressure for a playing spot. You have that in any team any way but I don’t think that is the focus at all.

“We have a strong squad here and any XI we put out on any given day is strong enough to beat any team so those are the things that we are trying to focus on as much as possible.”

England’s seamers started poorly in Wednesday’s game in East London, with Wood, Curran and Jordan shipping 49 runs between them in three Powerplay overs. They dragged things back at the end of the innings, in part thanks to an eventual adjustment to a pitch that suited cutters but also due to Adil Rashid’s tight spell in the middle overs which exposed South Africa’s lack of batting depth.

And Jordan suggested that while there was room for improvement, training against a powerful batting line-up provided plenty of scope for that.

“I honestly find our training sessions so beneficial because I am bowling at some of the best in the world,” he said. “Literally, if you miss your mark, you go out the park.

“Equally, we have got conversations about what can work and how we can improve slower balls. A big strength of this team is our communication and our will to try to help each other get better.”

Jordan found himself stranded at the non-striker’s end in the climax of Wednesday’s game, striding out to the middle with five runs needed from four balls only to see Lungi Ngidi close out an improbable win by conceding just three. And Jordan admitted that England could have been “a little bit smarter” having required seven runs from seven balls.

“With our batting line-up I am confident of chasing pretty much any score,” he said. “Seven off seven should be doable. But credit to Ngidi, he bowled a good last over.

“Potentially we could have been a little bit smarter at times but T20 cricket is one of those things. You try to take the positive option more often than not and some days it goes your way, some days it doesn’t.”

Jordan impressed at the death in East London, conceding 14 runs and taking three wickets in his final two overs, but had struggled in the third ODI at the Wanderers. His last three overs yielded 40 runs on that occasion, with David Miller taking him for two fours and three sixes.

That said, his record in T20Is has been superb of late. Since the start of 2019, he has taken 16 wickets at 13.00 apiece for England, at a parsimonious economy rate of 7.75. While Archer in particular is almost certain to bowl at the death in the format when fit, Jordan’s record in international colours suggests that he need not worry too much about his spot in the side.



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Kurtis Patterson looks to start afresh after injury setbacks

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A year ago Kurtis Patterson had completed the high point of his career – a maiden Test century – and looked a more-than-even chance of being part of the Ashes. However, things did not turn out that way and this week in Sydney he will play just his second first-class match of an injury-disrupted season which has seen him slip back into the pack of batsmen-in-waiting.

His Ashes hopes dwindled during a lean Australia A tour of England before the squad was picked and hopes of forcing his way back into the set-up at the beginning of this season were dashed by a quad injury, initially suffered in training before its recurrence during the Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania. The 26-year old has since admitted he was too keen to push his comeback.

Patterson only returned to first-team action in mid-January – for his new BBL side Perth Scorchers – and will now finally have the chance to pull on the whites against Victoria at the SCG.

“I accepted the reality of the situation,” he said. “I just had to concentrate on putting all my energy into getting my quad right. It’s never nice to miss big chunks of cricket, especially when it feels like you are batting well, so just really stoked to be back playing.”

It will take a lot for Patterson to get back in the Test fold any time soon. Australia swept all five home Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand with just two matches in Bangladesh between now and the start of the 2020-21 home summer. There is, perhaps, one middle-order position to play for with Matthew Wade having not nailed down his spot but Patterson is unlikely to figure in the thinking for Bangladesh even if he knows he remains in the selectors’ thoughts having been included in a strong Australia A side to face England Lions in Melbourne next week.

“It’s a white-ball winter with the T20 World Cup on [next October] with the amount of white-ball cricket the boys are playing in South Africa and England,” he said. “To be honest, I’m just happy to be back playing. I’ve worked on that skill of putting the Australian stuff out of my mind, there’s only two Tests and they are in Bangladesh ,so who knows how much this back half of the season with a seaming, swinging Duke ball will count for that? It will just be nice to win some games for New South Wales and hopefully another Shield.”

A return to Australia A colours excites Patterson as the selectors continue the recent trend of picking strong sides in what have become Test trials of late. Patterson benefitted from one last season when his twin hundreds against the Sri Lankans in Hobart hastened his Test debut when he had not been in the original squad.

“Lot of credit is due to CA, the feeling among the playing group is certainly that it’s a genuine second XI Australian team which wasn’t really the case for a few years,” he said. “The guys understand they are close, there’s a bit of added pressure on those games, it’s not just a hit around for the young players of potential. It’s always nice to play an English team and potentially leave some scars.”

Beyond the latter part of this domestic season, Patterson’s plans remain undecided. He has previously spoken about being keen for a county contract but he may put his focus into fitness and the fact he is due to get married.

“Still trying to work that out, I’m getting married on May 16 so, in terms of cricket, that throws a bit of a spanner in the works and obviously with the quad I need to dedicate some time to that in the off season to make sure I get that right going into next summer.”



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Match Preview South Africa vs England, 2nd T20I 2020

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Big picture

Well, here we are again, and that’s not meant in a ho-hum, repetitive sense, but rather in the enticing, stay-tuned-for-the-next-episode tone of a trilogy that promises to be a cracker if the cliffhanger first installment is any guide. The tension of South Africa’s one-run victory, achieved on the last ball of the contest in East London, hung largely on England’s collapse in the face of some brilliant death bowling by Lungi Ngidi.

But the threads of a gripping tale were woven earlier in the hosts’ failure to capitalise on a flying start which saw them reach 105 for the loss of just one wicket off the first 10 overs before managing just 30 runs in the next five and 42 after that. England welcomed the return of Jason Roy, whose 70 off 38 balls made the pursuit of 178 for victory look infinitely achievable, while captain Eoin Morgan contributed 52 off 34 before he was left “fuming” with himself for holing out and leaving his side needing seven off the last over. Cue Ngidi’s nerveless display in which he conceded just five runs and claimed two wickets before Adil Rashid was run out on the last ball.

So here we are, with South Africa claiming a 1-0 series lead, just as they did in the ODI series, which ended up 1-1 after rain forced the abandonment of the second match in Durban, the site of their next encounter, and England hit back in the final match. There is no doubt the tourists will come out fighting again on Friday. The fact that they only lost by one run – and Morgan acknowledged that Ngidi was the difference – will allow England to back themselves to put things right.

But while England are the stronger side on paper, there is something to be said for the confidence boost such a win will give to a relatively inexperienced South Africa side. Should England level the series at Kingsmead, there is a sense that the hosts will enter the finale in Johannesburg on a less-than-level pegging in the self-belief stakes. Don’t forget, they had a 1-0 lead in the Tests, too…

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa WWLWW
England LTWLL

In the spotlight

Lungi Ngidi thrust himself into the spotlight with his 3 for 10 off two overs in the closing stages instrumental in England’s capitulation in the first match but can he back it up? England will be particularly wary of his slower ball, which brought them undone, and, if he looks like nailing it to the same effect in the next match, they will know to go after someone else. Ngidi must have found his resurgence particularly satisfying after sitting out the Test series against England with a hamstring tear. In his comeback match, the first ODI against England, he went wicketless in seven overs, conceding 42 runs. In the second, he bounced back with a final spell of 3 for 11 in four overs after his first five overs had cost 52. Following his star turn at East London, he was understandably keen to maintain a hold on his place in the side after so long on the sidelines, suggesting he could remain dangerous.

England have handed Joe Denly a prized opportunity to stake his claim on a place at the T20 World Cup. Having gradually worked his way to some sense of security in the Test set-up and proved himself handy in the ODI format in South Africa, the jury is out on the shortest format. His T20I record is unspectacular, with 95 runs in 11 matches at an average of 10.55 and strike rate of 97.93 with a highest score of 30. But he was the leading run-scorer in the Vitality Blast in 2017 and was top again for Kent the following year, indicating his potential. There is no better time to fulfill that promise than now. Denly didn’t look comfortable in scoring just 3 while batting at No. 5 in the first T20I and he had a day to forget in the field. With Dawid Malan in the squad but so far unused, it is clear there are alternatives. That particular alternative may require shuffling the top order, but England have the versatility to do that.

Team news

It is hard to see South Africa changing a winning team, although they may look to lengthen their batting by bringing in Reeza Hendicks and dropping Dwaine Pretorius. Beuran Hendricks, used late, did enough with the ball to justify his retention, although Sisanda Magala will undergo yet another fitness test ahead of the match in hopes of throwing himself into the mix.

South Africa (possible): 1 Quinton de Kock (capt, wk), 2 Temba Bavuma, 3 Reeza Hendricks, 4 Rassie van der Dussen, 5 Jon-Jon Smuts, 6 David Miller, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Beuran Hendricks/Dwaine Pretorius, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Tabraiz Shamsi, 11 Lungi Ngidi.

Given Eoin Morgan’s positive outlook on the defeat – being tested under pressure, learning from mistakes, and the narrow margin – it seems likely that England will stick with the same line-up to see if they can improve on their previous performance. This was backed up further by Morgan’s stated desire for “guys to get absolute clarity in their positions”, which makes sense with a T20 World Cup on the horizon, and confirmation that England would continue to play their strongest available XI for this series. Given the lack of potency England’s seamers showed in the Powerplay at East London, they could tinker with their attack, perhaps bringing in Sam Curran for brother Tom.

England (possible): 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Jonny Bairstow, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Denly, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Sam Curran/Tom Curran, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood

Pitch and conditions

The good news is there is no rain forecast for Durban on Friday so there should be no repeat of last week’s ODI washout. The bad news is temperatures are expected to reach around 30 degrees – not bad, you say – but with humidity around an energy sapping 80% – not so pleasant.

Stats and trivia

  • South Africa have won their past three T20Is at Kingsmead and five of the seven completed T20 matches they have played there in total.

  • Dale Steyn moved ahead of Imran Tahir as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in T20Is after both were tied on 61. He needs two more wickets to do it again in the overall standings, with Tahir’s tally of 63 including two wickets playing for a World XI.

  • England have never won a T20 in Durban, although they haven’t visited since the 2007 ICC World T20, when they lost group matches to New Zealand and India, the latter featuring Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes off a Stuart Broad over en route to a record 50 off just 12 balls.

Quotes

“We don’t want a situation where we go to Centruion 1-1. We’ve probably got the upper hand on the English side at this point in time so it will be important that we use the advantage that we have and not to allow them to get back into the series.”
Temba Bavuma on the importance of momentum

“It’s another challenge for us, we’ll have to try and come back with another counter plan to him or try and target somebody else.”
Eoin Morgan on negating the threat posed by Lungi Ngidi’s bowling



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