Northerns pace duo in demand (21 Feb 1999 )

21 Feb 1999

Northerns pace duo in demand

Trevor Chesterfield

In Centurion

Northerns coach Peter Kirsten, while not a prophet of his own destiny, feels the Titans are about to lose two of their star bowlers to the national squad within the next 12 months.

He was not shy either when commenting how David Townsend and Greg Smith could find themselves targeted by the South African selectors as the Allan Donald's of this world think seriously of retirement.

And as Kirsten admitted after Northerns wrapped up their SuperSport game against Natal shortly before lunch on the third day, winning is one thing but finding replacements for two top fast bowlers is another matter.

With the stresses now facing fast bowlers because of the heavy demands through the expanded international circuit, Townsend and Smith, because of his left-arm variety and ability to swing the ball, are natural candidates for future South African teams. Shaun Pollock is going to be in need of support and with David Terbrugge along with Townsend forming the first wave of the young pace bowlers, provincial needs will become much less for tomorrow's star bowlers.

"Looking for replacements for two fine bowlers as these two is not going to be easy, so there is a lot of hard work ahead in the next few months," Kirsten added.

Northerns have bowled out teams for under 160 runs on five occasions in their last four matches and have been successful without Steve Elworthy in this match. Townsend now has taken 26 wickets this season with his career best six for 36 against Natal yesterday and the game against Free State looming.

Natal were dismissed for 155 and 133 which comes after teams such as Griquas and Western Province were bowled out for much less on home turf in Kimberley and Cape Town.

What did please Kirsten was how the "culture of winning (in the four day game) is continuing," but there was disappointment in how the side again failed to put together the four batting points Northerns needed to keep in touch with Western Province, Eastern Province and Gauteng.

"Coming from where we have I think we have done well, but we needed those extra batting points from this game," he said, critical of the soft dismissal of Dirkie de Vos, and how the need for batting skills combined with temperament, were important factors in building bigger totals.

"There is the game against Free State coming up this week and we will have a good look at our strengths and weaknesses," he added.

Although one of the problem areas in the side is still at number three berth which was critical to the team in looking for batting points and there was a need for a Ken Rutherford type of player, Kirsten was confident of further success.

Rudolf Steyn is expected to be back for the game against Free State and the former test batsman's experience would help the side in the absence of the injured Quentin Still, who with Quentin Ferreira, were earmarked by the coach as players who had skill and talent.

"You can call it the Q factor if you wish," he laughed, "but they are two good all-rounders".

Mark Davis, who is to retain the captaincy for the rest of the season, was more than happy with his own performance as well as that of the team's. It was also the first time he had led a Northerns side to victory over Natal.

He also put his own success as a bowler down to changing his action and the way he bowled in the match it certainly showed with five wickets in the match.

Trevor Chesterfield Cricket Writer Pretoria News t_chesterfield@hotmail.com