Australia news March 31, 2012

Botha a 'natural-born leader' - Berry

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South Australia's coach Darren Berry has described the state's new captain Johan Botha as a fierce, ruthless international competitor who will bring natural leadership qualities to the Redbacks. Botha will be released from his Cricket South Africa contract after the ICC World Twenty20 in September and will take up a two-year contract to lead South Australia, replacing Michael Klinger as captain.

The move was unexpected after Klinger in February led the Redbacks to their first one-day title in 25 years, but South Australia hope Botha will bring a fresh approach to a team that has won only one Sheffield Shield match in the past two seasons. Klinger said he was fully supportive of the move, which would allow him to focus solely on his batting.

"I loved every minute of captaining South Australia but I think for the betterment of South Australian cricket this decision will definitely help us go forward," Klinger told reporters in Adelaide. "He's a fantastic person, a disciplined character, which I think will be great for our group, and he's a very skilful cricketer. For him to come in and be part of the leadership group and captain our side will help us move forward."

Botha impressed the South Australian hierarchy with his on-field and off-field work for the Adelaide Strikers in the Big Bash League in December and January. He is regarded by Berry as the kind of man who can help the state's younger cricketers develop while holding down his own place in all formats with his offspin and solid batting.

"We worked with Botha during the Adelaide Strikers series and he had a really good impact on our playing group with his attitude and his leadership," Berry told ESPNcricinfo. "We were trying to secure him for next year for the Adelaide Strikers and as his one-day career with South Africa has probably tailed off in the last six weeks or so, an opportunity has come up.

"We feel that it was a wonderful opportunity to get someone of his experience and class to add to our mix. To come in and take the reins as captain as a pure outsider could be just the tonic to really help us improve and achieve what we want to in four-day cricket."

Botha has led South Africa in 10 ODIs and 11 Twenty20 internationals and his teams lost only five of those 21 matches. His role in the side is expected to vary depending on the availability of Nathan Lyon and his position will be more like that of the allrounder Aaron O'Brien, who has not been offered a South Australia contract for next summer after playing only two Shield games in 2011-12.

"We don't expect him to be a massive matchwinner for us, but what he is is a quality, ruthless international competitor," Berry said of Botha. "He's a jet in the field, he's more than adequate and solid with the bat, which we need in our middle order. He'll add some steel to our middle order, which constantly falls over. And his bowling will do a really serviceable job.

"The other good thing about it, and this is why Botha is such a good leader and good person, he's made it quite clear he will fit into the team wherever we need him to fit in. That means that whenever Nathan Lyon is available, there is no question that Nathan Lyon is the No.1 spinner and Botha will play as a batsman in those games and be the second spinner."

"What did Klinger do wrong? Absolutely nothing."
Darren Berry

"He's a cool head under pressure, he's a super-fierce competitor. He's captained his [South African] franchise, the Warriors. We played against him in two Champions League matches and were really impressed by his tactical nous and his knowledge of the game is first-class. When you talk cricket with him he's one of those natural-born leaders."

While Botha might take the position of a younger spinner like Cameron Williams, who made his first-class in February, Berry said the benefit the state's younger slow bowlers would benefit significantly from working with Botha. During 2011-12, the Redbacks used several spinners - Williams played one Shield game, O'Brien played two, Cullen Bailey played three and Lyon played two.

"We have some talented youngsters but they are a fair way off the mark," Berry said. "He'll be a good role model for them and almost like an on-the-job coach who will be able to assist them. We're getting him to assist on the field with the development side of our young players. We might play one of our young spinners alongside him so that he can lead them on the field as well. That was part of the appeal, the impact he will have on the younger players."

Berry said Botha's presence would be a major boost for the state's leadership on-field and off-field, with the development of a leadership group part of his plan with the squad. And Berry stressed that Klinger had done nothing wrong to prompt the move to Botha.

"What I'm trying to create is a culture of a core leadership group rather than what cricket has notoriously been about with the one sole figure-head," he said. "At South Australia we need a group of leaders if we're going to move forward. What did Klinger do wrong? Absolutely nothing. What we'd like Klinger to do is play cricket for Australia and continue to be a wonderful role model around our group, which he is. There was no issue with Klinger. It was just an opportunity to add an international captain to our mix."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on April 2, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    Captain the SA now coming here to captain SA.

  • starbuck on April 2, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    i'm up for it and if Klinger is cool with it, i'm cool with it. I'm with Berry, i wanna see Klinger have a crack at Aus selection too, but when/if it happens he won't be called up to be captain, so lets just let him play. (it's just the odour of the Andy Flower experience still in the air that concerns me).

  • Barnesy4444 on April 2, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Botha will be South Australia's second string off-spinner and has one FC century to his name. What happened to the Australian way of picking the best team and selecting the captain from those players?

  • pitzicada on April 2, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    As a South Australian it's hard to put a finger on exactly why we are so poorly placed in the local competition. We don't win enough that's for sure but clearly the powers that be see SA's woes as a leadership question. From Botha's mediocre record I'm not sure what else he has going for him. This is a very disappointing move from the SACA an imported Captain is very different from an imported player, and the SACA may see what support remains for the SA team dwindle further.

  • Marktc on April 2, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    A good move from South OZ. Botha is a hard worker and a never say die cricketer. He has loads of experience and is a good, solid captain. Why we never used him in the RSA team I will never know. IT was NOT a quota thing, but I think the number one spinner is going to Tahir and Botha is on the losing side, despite his record. South Africa's loss is Oz's gain.

  • on April 2, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    south australia need to really concentrate on developing young talent rather than get imports. i dont mind botha playing but captaincy seems a little too much. i think ferguson would have been a better captain. remember the RCB vs SA match in Bangalore last year, he captained the side and despite failing to win the match he got it really close.

  • Meety on April 1, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    Pretty underwhelming decision, he is going to play as a batsmen with a FC ave of 34 & 1 ton in 67 FC games. Sth Oz would of been better off getting Younis Khan back! Oh well, I suppose if they win TWO Shield matches during his contract term, it is an improvement!

  • on April 1, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Here we go again. Another good player leaves because our selections are all about QUOTAS. Johan Botha was always good enough to play in 20/20 and 50/50 but we needed to balance up our team you know!! Maybe we will do better if our QUOTAS are all management and our team fully on merit. Oh no we will then go into bankruptcy and have no team???

  • dunger.bob on April 1, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    South African players and coaches are in high demand at the moment and I can understand that. .. I've worked with a few Saffers over the years and always been impressed with their competence. On the whole, pretty good blokes and if it can help the Redbacks I'm all for it... lets face it Redbacks, you need to harden the hell up, and a little injection of Saffer juju might just make it happen .... as far as the local "Talent" is concerned, it's up to them to knock the door down and force their way in. .. as it should be.

  • Wozza-CY on March 31, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    @c_Marsh_b_Lillie- lol.....bravo!

  • on April 2, 2012, 14:33 GMT

    Captain the SA now coming here to captain SA.

  • starbuck on April 2, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    i'm up for it and if Klinger is cool with it, i'm cool with it. I'm with Berry, i wanna see Klinger have a crack at Aus selection too, but when/if it happens he won't be called up to be captain, so lets just let him play. (it's just the odour of the Andy Flower experience still in the air that concerns me).

  • Barnesy4444 on April 2, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Botha will be South Australia's second string off-spinner and has one FC century to his name. What happened to the Australian way of picking the best team and selecting the captain from those players?

  • pitzicada on April 2, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    As a South Australian it's hard to put a finger on exactly why we are so poorly placed in the local competition. We don't win enough that's for sure but clearly the powers that be see SA's woes as a leadership question. From Botha's mediocre record I'm not sure what else he has going for him. This is a very disappointing move from the SACA an imported Captain is very different from an imported player, and the SACA may see what support remains for the SA team dwindle further.

  • Marktc on April 2, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    A good move from South OZ. Botha is a hard worker and a never say die cricketer. He has loads of experience and is a good, solid captain. Why we never used him in the RSA team I will never know. IT was NOT a quota thing, but I think the number one spinner is going to Tahir and Botha is on the losing side, despite his record. South Africa's loss is Oz's gain.

  • on April 2, 2012, 7:47 GMT

    south australia need to really concentrate on developing young talent rather than get imports. i dont mind botha playing but captaincy seems a little too much. i think ferguson would have been a better captain. remember the RCB vs SA match in Bangalore last year, he captained the side and despite failing to win the match he got it really close.

  • Meety on April 1, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    Pretty underwhelming decision, he is going to play as a batsmen with a FC ave of 34 & 1 ton in 67 FC games. Sth Oz would of been better off getting Younis Khan back! Oh well, I suppose if they win TWO Shield matches during his contract term, it is an improvement!

  • on April 1, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Here we go again. Another good player leaves because our selections are all about QUOTAS. Johan Botha was always good enough to play in 20/20 and 50/50 but we needed to balance up our team you know!! Maybe we will do better if our QUOTAS are all management and our team fully on merit. Oh no we will then go into bankruptcy and have no team???

  • dunger.bob on April 1, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    South African players and coaches are in high demand at the moment and I can understand that. .. I've worked with a few Saffers over the years and always been impressed with their competence. On the whole, pretty good blokes and if it can help the Redbacks I'm all for it... lets face it Redbacks, you need to harden the hell up, and a little injection of Saffer juju might just make it happen .... as far as the local "Talent" is concerned, it's up to them to knock the door down and force their way in. .. as it should be.

  • Wozza-CY on March 31, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    @c_Marsh_b_Lillie- lol.....bravo!

  • mick82 on March 31, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    Whats all this" local talent" you guys reckon asrent getting a run?? i agree whole heartedly with his appointment. a shield team should be a tight agressive skilled unit that young players are trying to infiltrate and learn from in all capacities. everyones always pining for a youth policy but it doesnt work very well if all the young talents get handed there shield starts without earning it and then play with no discipline ie NSW

  • c_Marsh_b_Lillee on March 31, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    This is great news! Why develop local talent for our state and national teams, when we can develop talent for other countries? South Australia has never produced a quality spinner before, so why continue trying? I reckon we should bulldoze the Sir Donald Bradman Stand and the new Chappell Stands and turn Adelaide Oval into a football stadium. Drop in pitches will be such a huge improvement on the poor wickets that Adelaide is known for. Go South Africa C! South Aust... whatever

  • Gordo85 on March 31, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    This is a really good move for South Australia. Because they are right most of the younger spinners need someone to help them out to make them become better bowlers proberly due to the fact they are playing with in themselves. It would be a rather big blow for South Africa though but I guess he feels they haven't been selecting him enough or may have been even avoiding picking him. All the best to you Botha and thanks for all your good work you did for South Africa.

  • on March 31, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    Hopefully this is less like Andy Flower's (342 @ 24.82) trip to Adelaide and more like Younis Khan's (356 @ 50.85).

  • on March 31, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    Worth a try but smells like desperation too me. I am a south Australian and will support this but if it goes bad we are going to look stupid!!!!

  • JB77 on March 31, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    Well I won't be renewing my club membership next year then. As a resident of Adelaide and a long-time Redbacks fan I think this is a completely disgraceful decision. Yes, the Redbacks have been poor for some time, but the solution isn't an overrated, South African chucker as captain. Why not spend the money on improving the local club cricket scene and nurturing new local talent? One man won't fix a system that clearly isn't producing enough good players nor helping them perfect their skills. Look what Ryan Harris has achieved since leaving the Redbacks for the Bulls. Look at how Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey never developed to anything near their full potential. Look at how out of shape Cosgrove was allowed to get! There's something very wrong with Sth Australia's methods and this is NOT the solution. I've stuck by the Redbacks for years despite poor and often embarrassing form, but no more. What an absolute joke.

  • hackelbury on March 31, 2012, 6:11 GMT

    It is sad to see that all the other countries can see the worth of Botha, except CSA. He also had a successful IPL and batted up the order! He should be the captain of the T20 side for SA.... And he should be the Nr1 spinner for SA in Limited overs.

  • on March 31, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    Johan Botha is my all time favourite cricketer. He will completely revolutionize South Australia so that they will become the top Australian side. I just hope that he will never play for Australia, even if they beg him to. This will be too much for me to swallow. I want him to destroy other International sides for South Africa and not destroy South Africa for the Ausies, ever!

  • zenboomerang on March 31, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Botha should fit in well in the lower middle order - a good foil with Cooper who often runs out of partners & will bolster the spin bowling... Still think Sth Oz need 2 more good bowlers... Playing at AO needs one of the best bowling teams in Oz as the pitch is so even & predictable...

  • zenboomerang on March 31, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    @Brydon Coverdale :- "The move was unexpected"... No it wasn't - I mentioned numerous times months ago that Sth Oz were replacing Klinger with an international player... I just thought it would be an Aussie, so that surprised me, but I think this a v.g. decision by the Redbacks...

  • zenboomerang on March 31, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    @Chaman Betrabet :- "does that mean that he is eligible for australia"... No... Born & lives in South Africa... Requires citizenship + curfew period...

  • on March 31, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    others see his worth and his ability, big loss!

  • Mervo on March 31, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Geez, next we will be like England and our Test side will be half South Africans!

  • jonesy2 on March 31, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    is this even allowed?????????????

  • on March 31, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    I think its a great move. He's probably underrated in 4-day cricket since he hardly gets any time to play it. And its good to finally get some international cricketers in the shield again, may create a bit of interest if other states can do this as well.

  • on March 31, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    well if botha is released from csa contract and he is playing for south australia does that mean that he is eligible for australia selection

  • dsig3 on March 31, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    Slap in the face for Klinger. He did a good job dragging SA to that one day title. They are still terrible in first class cricket, but that title could have been a turning point.

  • AngryAngy on March 31, 2012, 3:02 GMT

    Why not Botha? Why not Zoidberg?

  • RandyOZ on March 31, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    Well why not try Botha? We have been the punching bag of shield cricket for so long we need to try something new. Would've liked to see a South Aussie captain but there are no good ones coming through.

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  • RandyOZ on March 31, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    Well why not try Botha? We have been the punching bag of shield cricket for so long we need to try something new. Would've liked to see a South Aussie captain but there are no good ones coming through.

  • AngryAngy on March 31, 2012, 3:02 GMT

    Why not Botha? Why not Zoidberg?

  • dsig3 on March 31, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    Slap in the face for Klinger. He did a good job dragging SA to that one day title. They are still terrible in first class cricket, but that title could have been a turning point.

  • on March 31, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    well if botha is released from csa contract and he is playing for south australia does that mean that he is eligible for australia selection

  • on March 31, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    I think its a great move. He's probably underrated in 4-day cricket since he hardly gets any time to play it. And its good to finally get some international cricketers in the shield again, may create a bit of interest if other states can do this as well.

  • jonesy2 on March 31, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    is this even allowed?????????????

  • Mervo on March 31, 2012, 5:35 GMT

    Geez, next we will be like England and our Test side will be half South Africans!

  • on March 31, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    others see his worth and his ability, big loss!

  • zenboomerang on March 31, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    @Chaman Betrabet :- "does that mean that he is eligible for australia"... No... Born & lives in South Africa... Requires citizenship + curfew period...

  • zenboomerang on March 31, 2012, 5:45 GMT

    @Brydon Coverdale :- "The move was unexpected"... No it wasn't - I mentioned numerous times months ago that Sth Oz were replacing Klinger with an international player... I just thought it would be an Aussie, so that surprised me, but I think this a v.g. decision by the Redbacks...