The bitterly disappointed and frustrated folk can only watch from the wings. The bottom line is that we don’t have the players to take on the big sides, but poor selections magnify the problem. We should have given a better account of ourselves than that.
ZC is a multi million dollar industry that has disregarded the one thing the whole business hinges upon, and that’s player development in the 8-18 age group and one has to wonder if they actually expect results. Ideally they would want the annual ICC handouts without the aggravation of having to play cricket.
In the big countries player development takes care of itself at parent, school, club and provincial level and there are dozens of talented kids who want to represent their country and become professionals and they have access to the resources and the cricket and the competition is of a high enough standard to achieve that. We don’t have that luxury, parents/players/schools are no longer interested, end of story. Having said that, Peter House are very pro-active and have a cricket Academy that is well run. Lo and behold that’s probably half the good players already taken care of for free. ZC have to identify talented guys early on and somehow make sure they’re on the right track. At any one stage there’s only a small handful of them, so it’s not hard to do. It would be worth getting a couple of competent people to make a list of them and for ZC to pay to ensure they perhaps get partial or full scholarships and to get specialized private coaching wherever they are on a very regular basis. If they don’t get to the coaching they lose their scholarship, end of story. And back some white boys, don’t assume their parents will look after them or they’ll leave, this is what’s gotten us into this mess in the first place. People will scream elitism but we can’t keep doing what we’re doing year in and year out, it doesn’t work and it never ever ever will. We need a group of “elite” Junior players that we have high expectations of from the get go. The schools need to make allowances for the kids so they’ve got time to practice. They must be allowed to cut pottery Club, cross country, and Junior United Nations occasionally so they can go and smack balls. Having well rounded young men that can drink like mine workers with a credit card, are distinctly average at 400 different things but are masters of fuck-all is about as useful as tits on a bull. Ask Tendulkar how often he attended archery club or debating club.
Our standard of Junior batting is terrible, we’ve got guys with ability but they have to learn at an early age to play technically correct cricket, to construct an innings, be patient and play high percentage shots until they assess they need to up the tempo and take calculated risks, to assess their own strong and weak areas and wait for those deliveries, and above all to have some dog f*%k and soak up some pressure without collapsing in a whimpering heap. It starts early, it’s not something you can talk about or try to get to grips with when you’re 18. They have to learn how to do it out in the middle right now. If you can’t plunder hundreds in Zimbabwe you’re absolutely going to fail 100/100 times in SA inter-provincials or in an international. I doubt the current squad have more than 10 hundreds between the lot of them at schoolboy level.
I’m telling you all in advance that we have 4-5 guys that would make a solid batting line up for the next WC, guys that could have quite a few hundreds under their belts by the time they’re 16-18 and be confident of facing the sort of bowling attacks we’re now seeing at u19, but unless there’s a miracle we will end up having the same frustrating conversation in two years time. We’ve had guys like this all the time, we just never do the right things with them.