Captain Behardien?

A topic that, with all due respect to Farhaan Behardien, made me laugh out loud. Really loud. Is he necessarily the right captain for a squad of young players?

While there are six new players brought in to enhance the depth of our T20 International squad for future matches and selections, it was a slight experiment bringing in a player with a high strike-rate but has not even captained a national or domestic squad since starting for the Proteas. I am a Behardien fan. I do believe that he can do very well for South Africa like he has in the domestic scene. For some reason, it may be due to pressure or nerves, some players do much better domestically than they do at international level, and he unfortunately happens to be one of those players. While I am not criticising the selectors on his appointment of captaincy, it would just be better understood as to why he was giving this form of leadership, as it seems it is only justified with his fantastic form in the recent T20 Challenge where he reached a new record in T20 scores of 55 runs coming from 15 balls in early December. Impressive play? Definitely. Captain material? I don’t really think so.

This may be deemed common knowledge, but most great cricket players, or even players in any sport, do not always make as great leaders. Some are natural-born leaders but are slightly below average in their actual sport-playing. This sparked a debate among cricket fans in South Africa mostly on whether AB de Villiers, who recently stepped down as Test captain for the Proteas after two matches in early January 2016, was better suited to play without the burden of captaining the team and scoring big runs, for which he is known. A similar incident occurred in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2016 where David Miller was released from his captaincy of the bottom-of-the-log team Kings XI Punjab. Even while captaincy was passed on to fellow teammate and Indian batsman, Murali Vijay, his form in the shorter format still suffered.

When now discussing the most recent T20 that was on Sunday, the one thing that stood out for me, apart from the terrible shots played by our batsmen and many dropped catches, was the death over bowler. Lungi Ngidi, the young up-and-coming quick, had bowled out his overs and reached his career best of 4-19. He, Imran Tahir, and Wayne Parnell managed at times to keep things tight and not leak too many runs. My only criticism of how Ngidi was used is that he could have been kept for an over getting closer to the death seeing that Andile Phehlukwayo had been more expensive than usual, conceding three boundaries in his second over and going for 11 runs in his first.

Bringing in a spinner to bowl the last over of the game to defend seven runs on a deck that was favouring a batsman willing to grind it out was a slightly naive idea, but one that may have been done in desperation. It would have been ideal to bring Phehlukwayo to bowl at death, but considering his last two overs, it would have been risky. Had catches been held onto, the last over could have required more runs to defend, which would have been better if Ngidi had been saved for the 15th or even the 16th over as he was the second most economical bowler or the Proteas.

This young squad of players needed a leader that was experienced in captaincy and had an idea as to how he wanted his troops to play in the match when it came to both batting a bowling. As majority of the players who were involved in the Test series clean-sweep were rested, including T20I and newly-appointed Test captain Faf du Plessis, there seems as if there was no other option for the interim captaincy. This T20 series is no place to place a trial-and-error on potential captains especially when the squad had a few young players making their debut on the international front.

The decider of this now-interesting T20I series is tomorrow. With the inclusion of de Villiers in the squad, he now adds an element of experience and leadership to the very young squad. Seeing that Behardien is only supposed to captain the first two T20 matches, will de Villiers takeover Fudgie’s captaincy, or will Fudgie try and end the series off sweetly for South Africa?

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