Launching to success
With so much cricket played these days it is often difficult to keep track of who is who and what they are doing. In this weekly feature Cricinfo will take a look at one player who is making the news. This week it's Loots Bosman, the big-hitting South African
The words "sensible" and "Loots Bosman" are unlikely to occur in the same breath, except in cautionary tales that youth team coaches might tell their charges. As in, "You don't have to go out there and bat like Loots Bosman; you know - as if the bowler has said something disgusting about your sister. Be sensible, please."
But there is at least one nugget of sense about Bosman, the tyro gyro who has announced himself at the top of South Africa's batting order in recent months. It is indeed sensible that Bosman goes by the name of Loots rather than by his given name, Lungile. Loots, you see, is the Afrikaans word for launch.
Launch is what Bosman has done for much of his career, irrespective of whether he is playing a first-class match, a one-day game, or a 20-over thrash. At least, that's the general impression of the 29-year-old who was born and bred on the dusty plains of Kimberley, where he was raised by his grandfather. The truth is a little different.
Bosman took his first-class bow for Griqualand West in a Supersport Series match against big brothers Free State in Bloemfontein in November, 1997. He sweated for almost five hours over his debut innings, and when stumps were drawn on the second day he was 96 not out. A sleepless night contributed to his being dismissed the next morning without adding to his score.
Griquas won by eight wickets, and Bosman wasn't required to bat in the second innings. But he made up for that lost opportunity by scoring 77 in his next first-class innings, against Border. Another half-century, 69 not out in the second innings against Boland, was his in his fourth match.
He passed 50 just once in the next summer, and only twice in the season after that. Was the Bosman story over before it had begun? It seemed so when he was did not play in Griquas' first three Supersport Series matches in 2000-01. Bosman cracked the nod for the fourth game, against North West in Kimberley, and made it count by scoring an undefeated 115. He also gave a glimpse of what was to come by smiting four sixes.
Egged on by the growing mob of fans who bayed for fours and sixes from just beyond the short straight boundaries at Griquas' home ground, Bosman steadily built a reputation as a stylish, punishing batsman. But he also became known for tossing his wicket away.
Then 20-over cricket blew into South Africa like a wayward hurricane, and the clamour for Bosman's elevation to international level rose to a crescendo.
He needed 43 balls to score the first century in the Standard Bank Pro20 Series - 104 for the Eagles against the Lions in April, 2005 - and he took a record 22 balls to reach 50 against the same hapless Lions in February.
Those two innings had much to do with Bosman's selection for the Twenty20 international against Australia last season, and Graeme Smith's ankle injury helped him make the squad for a one-day triangular tournament in Sri Lanka this season. Only for the South Africans to return home in the wake of a fatal bomb blast near their Colombo hotel. But the 88 that Bosman hammered off 70 balls in the third one-day international against Zimbabwe earlier this month hinted that Loots has plenty of launching to do yet.
Named in the Griqualand West squad for what was then called the Nuffield Week, the senior schools inter-provincial tournament.
Toured Sri Lanka with South Africa A, but made little impression in the three matches he played.
Scored first-class best of 140 for Griquas against Western Province in Kimberley.
Finishes the Standard Bank Pro20 Series as the competition's leading run-scorer, having scored 219 runs in six innings.
Moves from Griquas to Free State after the Kimberley-based side were frozen out of South Africa's new franchise system.
It's early in South Africa's season, but he looked lethal against Zimbabwe. Don't we all.
What he says
"The first 15 overs is my game - to take on the bowlers up front. International cricket is different, of course, but I'm not going to change anything about my game. I'm just going to play like I always play."
What they say
"You could compare him to Shahid Afridi on a good day - when he launches it goes for miles. He's has always played that way, and I reckon he always will." - Brian Kidson general manager of the Griqualand West Cricket Board
What you may not know
He's a lethal fielder and not the worst medium pacer, having taken 3-25 from nine overs in a first-class tour match against Pakistan in 1997-98.
Telford Vice works for the MWP agency in South Africa