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South Africa's all-time side helps dismantle the divide and isolation built between eras
December 18, 2009
News : Kallis and Smith in South Africa all-time XI
All-time XI: South Africa : The men in the shadows
Players/Officials: Barry Richards | Graeme Smith | Jacques Kallis | Graeme Pollock | Dudley Nourse | Aubrey Faulkner | Mike Procter | Shaun Pollock | John Waite | Hugh Tayfield | Allan Donald
Teams: South Africa
Other links: All-time XI: South Africa
Selection is neither science nor art, and it seems to involve equal amounts of fact and fiction. That, no doubt, makes the process a pain in the back side for some. Here's hoping those who have served on the jury charged with delivering Cricinfo's all-time South Africa XI don't feel that way.
Certainly, it has been a time of careful thought about eras and players some of us know about only because those who have gone before passed on their experiences. Of course, they also gave us their likes and dislikes, their prejudices and pre-conceptions. Conversely, we have had to guard against measuring too generously the merits of the players we have seen and known ourselves.
Sometimes these influences collide. For instance, even those who first meet Trevor Goddard in his later life cannot help knowing they are in the presence of a man of rare grace, intelligence and spirit. Without having seen him play, and regardless of the bald statistics of his career, there can be no doubt that Goddard was one damn fine cricketer. So, never mind in the backside, it's a pain in the brain - and sometimes in the heart - this selection business.
To the final reckoning. Time to do the deed.
We have assembled a veritable Zulu impi of a cricket team, an XI that could hold its own and then some against any ranged against it. The team includes a pair of Pollocks and a Nourse, but nary a Kirsten. Of the current generation, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis have made the cut, but not Mark Boucher.
Alas, there is no Goddard.
But it is heartening to know that Allan Donald's greatness remains undimmed, and to realise that, once, South Africa depended on an offspinner to take the lion's share of their wickets.
Among the consequences of South Africa's isolation from international cricket was the virtual building of a Berlin Wall between the game's past and present in the country. Perhaps the real value of exercises like the one that we complete below is in helping to dismantle that divide.
Telford Vice made his Test debut as a cricket writer in Barbados in 1992 - the match that marked the end of South Africa's isolationFeeds: Telford Vice
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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