ArpitGarg's Weblog

An opinion of the world around me

Botha, Who? SA captain. Again, Who?

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A: Who is the guy bowling?
B: Johan Botha.
A: Johan who?
B: Captain of South Africa.
A: Again, who?

During the ongoing ODI series involving Aussies and SA, I was really confused seeing Johan Botha. Where did he come from? How did I miss him earlier? Why have I never heard about him as a player? I scanned my brain for some match winning performance, some feat. Nothing! I cricinfoed his profile to find more about him. Nothing! Tried google. Nothing!

One can easily remember the name of South African spinners, simply coz there haven’t been many. Pat Symcox, Nicky Boje, Paul Adams and the most recent Paul Harris. Where did I miss Botha. Not just the lone spinner but the captain too! A recent article in this regard presented an interesting view. Botha was chosen to bring inspiration to the team in Smith’s absence. What inspiration was the author taking about? Apparently he had been called for his bowling action in the past. The way he handled the situation and came back to the team would prove inspirational and what the players could look up to.

Great! Now players like Kallis, Gibbs, Boucher, Amla would look up to an ex-chucker for inspiration! This is not even a reason. So why was he made captain? A captain, who is not even a selection in the Test team.

Selectors might be repeating their Experiment Smith. They threw in Smith very early into captaincy and look how well he fared. Maybe that’s the thought. Again, Smith averaged 55 in whatever few Tests he had played by then. Botha’s batting avg of 18 and bowling average of 40 don’t even come close. A couple of failures and he would be running from pillar to post for his place in the team, leave aside captaincy.

There should be something more to it. Given Smith’s envious record as a captain and as a player, South African cricket board might be looking just for a stop gap arrangement. Who the captain is as the filler don’t even matter. Again, why Botha?

We might want to have a look around. Marred by power struggles within the team, cricket round the world has suffered a lot. England, West Indies, Pakistan, India. All. SA has been insulated from it for a while now, barring a few hiccups. Selectors might not want to create poles within the team by giving a senior member the captaincy, who might be reluctant to relinquish it later. Look what happened to England post Ashes ’05. Why not select a younger player who is not even sure of his place. Keep him the captain for a series or two, till Smith is back. He can even be disposed off easily, if the plan backfires. This would keep Smith the sole power center within the team. Thus, tactfully avoiding ego clashes among the senior players.

Selectors might be giving an excuse of grooming the captain for the future. Our worry is, Mr. Botha might even not have one as a player!

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Written by arpitgarg

January 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

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