South Africa news March 12, 2013

McLaren among five to get new CSA contracts


Ryan McLaren has been earmarked as the next South Africa Test allrounder after he was re-awarded a national contract. McLaren has been a regular across the ODI and Twenty20 formats this summer and will come into consideration for the Test team as Jacques Kallis reaches the twilight years of his decorated career.

Although McLaren cannot be a direct replacement for Kallis, because he will not bat as high up the order, the national selectors have indicated he may slot in lower down.

"We know that Jacques Kallis will not be around indefinitely and we have to look at finding another allrounder for the Test side," Andrew Hudson, convener of selectors told ESPNcricinfo. "That No. 7 spot means we could play someone like Ryan there instead of the extra batsmen."

Kallis was injured in every one of the last five series he has played in, a sign that 18 years of international cricket are taking their toll. His niggles have ranged from back spasms to a hamstring strain and he is being carefully managed as he enters the final stretch.

Kallis will no longer play bilateral T20 or one-day series, saving himself for major tournaments. That opened the door for McLaren, who has yo-yoed in and out of the national side for four years, to establish a more permanent place for himself in the shorter formats.

He notched up a career best 4 for 46 against New Zealand in the first ODI in January and then hit a six off the last ball in the third match to win South Africa that fixture. "His short-form game has been fantastic and we are really impressed with his skill levels. We knows his game very well now," Hudson said.

Like Robin Peterson, McLaren has benefited from a longer run in the team, aided by the fact that he had few competitors for the all-rounders' spot. His only real challenger, Albie Morkel, has been a victim of indifferent form and injuries and has fallen behind.

As a sign of how far, Morkel was not re-contracted. "We never like to say it's the end of the road for players and if Albie has a good season, there is no reason why we can't use him but in the shorter format we need to look forward. For now we have one or two other options," Hudson said. Chris Morris, who was not awarded a contract is one of those and remains in the plans for the future.

Hudson and his panel also seem to have put an end to the international careers of Jacques Rudolph and Ashwell Prince. Rudolph was dropped after the Adelaide Test against Australia in November last year but remained a reserve batsman in the squad. His second-coming began with him as an opener before he was dropped down to No. 6 but his lack of runs under pressure saw him make way for Dean Elgar. Prince has not played for South Africa since the Boxing Day Test of 2011.

The selectors have, however, given Imran Tahir and Thami Tsolekile some rope as both were retained. "Robbie is in position as the Test spinner but we go to some places in the next year where we may need two spinners and Imran is still very much in the plans," Hudson said. South Africa play Pakistan in October in the United Arab Emirates where Tahir is likely to feature. Tsolekile remains the reserve wicketkeeper who Hudson said is "not far off," playing for South Africa.

New faces on the list include young tearaway Marchant de Lange. The 22-year-old spent most of the past season recovering from a stress fracture but made his comeback earlier this year. Rusty Theron, who was not contracted, had the same injury and has also just returned to the game. 

De Lange has played two first-class and six T20 matches and is reaching speeds in the late 140 kphs and occasionally 150 kph plus. "We've watched him in a few of the T20s and we see he has got his pace back and can get quicker. We will definitely be able to use a bowler like him," Hudson said.

After becoming the most successful bowling debutant of 2011 with 7 for 84 against Sri Lanka, he was South Africa's first-choice reserve bowler. He will now compete with Rory Kleinveldt, also newly contracted, and Kyle Abbott who took 7 for 29 against Pakistan in Centurion but was not contracted for a place.

Dean Elgar, who took over from Rudolph, and Aaron Phangiso are the other rookies. Phangiso is the third spinner on the contract list, a reward, Hudson said, for his fine domestic form. "He has been consistent for the Lions and that is what we base contracts on - not just one or two performances," Hudson said.

The rest of the group are made up of familiar players with Colin Ingram and Wayne Parnell retaining their places. JP Duminy is also on the list and is expected to recover from his ruptured Achilles' tendon in time for the Champions Trophy in June and will contest for a place next season. Johan Botha, who was released from his contract in September last year when he relocated to Australia, was not considered.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Thomas on March 14, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    @Dale_Pain. Chris Morris, as a bowler, looks promising for sure. But, a 4th seamer?! That implies he is going to be a batter at 7 I presume, or that Peterson will bat at 7..... neither of them has enough consistency to do that in my opinion...backed up by stats I believe.

    Chris Morris has not been shining in First Class batting for as long as I can remember. Even though his average is 34 and a bit, I *wonder* how many of those big runs he scored came at the first class level BELOW franchise with De Kock. I rate De Kock massively, BUT his FC stats are certainly beefed up by scores at the non-franchise level.

    Look, I don't JUST go on stats, but they provide a sense of consistency. and I have seen A Morkel bat many times, and he LOOKS a good batter. I have also seen McLaren bat. He *looks* like he can hit the ball for sure, but I don't believe he looks as technically proficient as Albie.

    How does Chris Morris's technique look... anyone?

  • Graham on March 14, 2013, 11:24 GMT

    Can we not find a younger replacement for Kallis. Morris would be a decent 4th seamer surely? Or perhaps we could simply distribute Wallis' overs amongst Duminy, du Plessis and Elgar?

  • Thomas on March 14, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    Geez, I just checked Albie's First Class (FC) batting stats compared to someone like Dean Elgar. In Domestic FC, Elgar has the exact same ratio of scores over 50 versus total innings batted, to Albie!! 27%.

    Considering Dean Elgar comes in as opener, and Albie bat 5-7, it baffles me soo much that Albie Morkel is not seriously considered as a test number 7!!!

    I bet this ratio compares well to any decent mid-20 year old batters SA have in their next rank of possibilities.

    For goodness sake, Dean came it at 6 in tests whereas Albie would in fact come in one lower at 7....AND he would most likely average a couple a wickets per test over his career.............. which is all you need when you have Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Kleinveldt, Morris, Abbot, De Lange as your primary pace triumvirate.

    I am waiting to hear WHY A Morkel is not considered a fine option for SA at number 7??? And don't go on about age, he could give 4-5 years to South Africa quite easily at number 7 surely

  • Thomas on March 14, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    @MrGarreth and the rest. The first sentence in this article is:

    ""Ryan McLaren has been earmarked as the next South Africa Test allrounder"".

    All I see people referring to is Albie's performances in ODI's??? His performances in ODI's are perhaps not as wonderful as we would have liked, BUT BUT BUT, I definitely agree with the sentiment that if you are chucked in to bash the ball around at the drop of a hat as he was, then you are not going to be averaging 41 and having a strike rate of 100. It just wont happen.

    Albie, to my mind, takes a little bit of time to get himself in, but then he can start to hit the ball a long way. Look, his Domestic first class stats prove that he can bat for a long time. If you look at his scores over 50 as a ratio of his total number of batting innings, he get's a 50 at least 1 in 4 times.

    The man is a proper batter, not a *throw him to the lions* slogger.

    Can we comment on the actual gist of the article... SA's next TEST all rounder!

  • Nick on March 14, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    @ MrGarreth

    When was he EVER put in a situation to do better than that? When you are put in late and asked to hit fast runs, that is what you get...

  • Blessing on March 13, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    @Nick636 i believe @MrGarreth has summed it up nicely for me, please read his post..

  • Garreth on March 13, 2013, 19:03 GMT

    People calling for Albie Morkel are smoking their socks. 2 fifites in 58 ODIs including one of which was against Zim? No thank you. Its time to move on. He has been given plenty of chances. And lets not even mention his bowling. He was promoted plenty but that's besides the point. Coming in late in the order is awesome. You are given licence to hit it all over the park. Every time a lower order batsman performs badly people cry for them to be promoted. Not everyone can be in the top order you know. Albie had his chance. Its amazing how short peoples cricketing memories are. Albie has disappointed constantly. I like McClaren. I think people are obsessed with the lower order hitter since Klusener and thats why Morkel has become an obsession: Left-handed big hitter who bowls right arm medium. The comparison ends there. Come on my fellow Saffers. Lets get over it

  • Thomas on March 13, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    @all. I don't know what I am missing, but why oh why has Albie Morkel never been considered for a decent run in the test Team, at number 7?? If McLaren is now being *groomed* for that spot, then it stands to reason that someone like Albie would also fit the bill.

    Look, the number 7 spot is never ever ever going to require a person stronger in bowling. It NEEDS a strong batter. Albie's pedigree as a batter, NOT hitter, at 7 is huge. His Domestic success at number 5-7 is obvious. Accepted, he has not played much first class cricket in over a year (BTW, WHY IS THIS?), but his batting is more than good enough for 7 in the SA test team. His bowling, is more than handy. In fact, it surely is comparable to the Jacques at this stage of his bowling life? Albie may not have the same heavy ball or sharp pace, but he could bowl more overs.

    Why has Albie not been considered as the *almost* perfect batting&Bowling number 7? answers please? He has NOT been given a fair shake in Tests!

  • zaf on March 13, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    J. kallis is great player in all format, very popular player in PAK, he should plays upto next Worldcup.

  • Gordon on March 13, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    No real surprise about Rudolph missing out. I have noticed for awhile now he has been struggling and I am a fan of his. I think when he hurt his back and couldn't bowl anymore maybe thats when he dropped off. Prince is another I am not surprised about. I think they think that Imran needs to still be on the list to be given more chances to show if he can improve at International level and if he doesn't well then he may not be on the list next time. I don't understand the Tsolekile selection because when he was going to play in Australia they protected him and he didn't even play a Test. How much more longer are you going to need to protect a guy for when he is as old as Tsolekile is? I understand he is the best gloveman behind the stumps but he doesn't do enough with the bat I am sorry. Either you play him and if you don't play him again he won't stay on the list next time and then he may be too old. Chris Morris should get a go next time. Abbott is unlucky but it is early with him.

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