Despite domestic run glut‚ few batsmen crack SA nod
Batsmen have never had it so good in South Africa as this season‚ and that’s a fact.
After seven rounds of the franchise first-class competition you have to go 17 players down the list to find someone who averages less than 50.
If the trend continues we’re looking at a record run glut of a summer.
The current highwater mark for batsmen averaging 50 after a completed season is the 14 who got there in 2003-04.
There were 12 in 1996-97‚ 2001-02 and 2014-15‚ and 11 in 1999-00 and 2004-05.
So 15 and upward this summer would merit a place in the annals.
That seems likely‚ what with 49 centuries — three of them double hundreds‚ 11 others scores of at least 150 — and 101 half-centuries having been made in 625 trips to the crease.
There have been 20 declarations in the 21 matches played and only six games have not included at least one.
Three of those declaration-free matches were the only matches in the competition that have not been drawn.
“Sheesh‚” was Dolphins opening batsman Sarel Erwee’s reaction to being told that‚ despite scoring three centuries and a half-century in his 10 innings and averaging 49.40‚ all of 16 batsmen were doing better than him.
He was the unlucky No. 17.
“The pitches are quite a lot slower this season‚” Erwee said.
“They’ve taken a lot more turn and they haven’t assisted the seam bowlers as much.
“Most of the seam bowlers aren’t as experienced as in past seasons‚ where you’ve had a lot of South Africa A players or even South Africa players playing domestic four-day cricket.
“This season you haven’t had as many of them.”
Five of the top six wicket-takers are spinners‚ and the five leading seamers have 132 franchise first-class caps between them — on average of 26.4 each.
“Also‚ a lot of batsmen have taken ownership and put their hands up.”
They have‚ but despite that South Africa’s problems against India this season have centered on their batsmen — and Aiden Markram is the only frontline batsman South Africa have capped in the six tests they have played in 2017-18.
Do the selectors not trust the system?
“I don’t think they are thinking that‚” Erwee said.
“I think our franchise system is OK. I’m not going to say it’s the world’s best. But it is what it is.
“Maybe the selectors are looking for that standout season from someone‚ where they get to the 900 or a thousand-run mark.
"That’s where batsmen try to get themselves to.
“The top batsmen are sitting close to 700 runs‚ so by the end of the season they could be in line for national selection.
“I think the selectors are probably getting it right in terms of the players they’re choosing and the players they’re looking at for the long run.”
Vaughn van Jaarsveld‚ Erwee’s teammate‚ is top of the heap with 691 runs.
Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen are also closing in on 700.
But‚ with so many batsmen among the runs‚ it might be difficult for the selectors to see the wood for the trees.
Success as a group could be impeding progress as individuals.