South Africa news August 8, 2013

Tsotsobe initally not part of SL tour


Lonwabo Tsotsobe was part of South Africa's recently completed limited-overs side which toured Sri Lanka, despite not being on the original squad list because of fitness concerns. That was head coach Russell Domingo's most interesting declaration as the group arrived in Johannesburg following their 4-1 ODI series loss and 2-1 Twenty20 truimph.

Tsotsobe was South Africa's second-highest wicket-taker in the ODI series with six wickets, at a joint-best average among visiting bowlers of 20.33. His 4 for 22 in the third ODI equalled his career-best. He also took three wickets in the T20s at 25.66, with best figures of 2 for 17 in the second match which sealed the series for South Africa.

But Tsotsobe may not have had the chance to do any of that, after Domingo revealed the left-armer would have stayed home had the coach not been convinced otherwise. "I had massive concerns about his form, fitness and possibly his work ethic," Domingo said. "After canvassing some opinion and chatting to him, we decided to take him with [us] and work on his fitness in the first two or three weeks to try and get him to a position where he could perform to his maximum."

Domingo denied there was any political influence involved in the decision for Tsotsobe to travel, but admitted the administrators are aware of the need to transform the national team. "There was nothing like that, in terms of politics, but we are fully aware of the need to have black African players in our side and there is a lack of them banging on the door." Tsotsobe has been the only black African player in the South African squad in recent years, with left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso now giving him company.

According to Domingo, the plan was for Tsotsobe to sit out of the first few matches until he was in match condition, but this was not made public beforehand. "We wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing because there had been a downward spiral in his performances. If someone's fitness is lagging, the work ethic may not be good. We had to work on all of that," Domingo said. "He is seriously skilful and we wanted to keep him close to the group."

When a local South African newspaper, The Citizen, reported a few days after the team departed that Tsotsobe failed a fitness test before the tour, Cricket South Africa would not confirm whether that was the case. They told ESPNcricinfo that all players were cleared by the medical committee before the squad and that Tsotsobe had suffered a recurrence of the ankle impingement which affected him last season.

Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, who is also a medical doctor, confirmed the chronic condition returned when Tsotsobe started bowling in Colombo. He did not play in the first two ODIs in order to undergo rehabilitation, but was declared fit for the third match. His return of 4 for 22 was not only a repeat of his career-best, but "probably won the game for us," Domingo said. That would be the only ODI that South Africa won.

Tsotsobe continued to bowl well throughout the series, which Domingo took as an indication that the "right decision," was made to include him. "He learnt a lesson and he worked hard."

For Domingo, the challenge between now and South Africa's tour in the UAE to play Pakistan in October, is to ensure Tsotsobe continues to make progress, and extends that to other areas such as his fielding. "He made big improvements and we need to try and make sure he maintains that momentum."

Tsotsobe will join up with the South Africa A squad, who are currently involved in a tri-series with Australia A and India A in Pretoria. He will work with Vincent Barnes, the former national bowling coach and current high performance head, and may even feature in some of the matches.

He will also be involved with his new franchise, the Lions, who have qualified for September's Champions League. Tsotsobe did not play for the Lions during last season's domestic twenty-over competition, but signed for them during the off-season.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ZCF on August 10, 2013, 8:38 GMT

    @AltafPatel, I'm glad some can see the light as well. It's not so much a case of something hidden, but rather a brazenly transparent status quo. SA cricket has some untouchables, backed by a very powerful administration (Hudson, Willie 'Biological Weapons' Basson, now Lorgat - whom the BCCI want rid of). Gibbs has said a few things, so has Ntini. Guys like Tsolekile still carry wounds of that administration. Given a chance, many more can probably tell his story.

    A quick glance at the A team(despite losing 2 times already) playing against AusA today shows just how little they care about making&persisting with "necessary changes". All the more reason why I have no doubt little progress will be made in the Proteas.

    Someone here just said he would play a Steyn with a broken arm above everyone else. We've seen the kind of patience extended to the likes of Rudolph. I wonder what value certain current players bring to the side. I wouldn't be surprised if de Kock is part of the next squad.

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    TSOTSOBE have never been fit, I played against him. He will do just to himself if he gets fit and once he achieve that, he will be happier with himself and will achieve even more heights.

  • Altaf on August 9, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    His performance in SL, and that on pitch that doesn't much help to seamers, was far more better than others. Infact, question is why Morkel got to play in all ODIs due to extremely poor form and not only that but got chance in T20s as well where again show flop show. There is certainly something that administrator is hiding from the public.

  • ZCF on August 9, 2013, 9:49 GMT

    @MAK123 I could not have said it better. Effective smokescreen by these CSA elements. Several things are wrong about this team. de Villiers has been as pathetic a captain as it will EVER get for the Proteas. de Kock too has lowered the bar for what is expected of a wicketkeeper batsman, further raising questions why senior, more capable options were ignored to begin with. Our overrated middle order all individually took turns to embarrass. This ODI unit was pathetic, and it has been for a very long time now so heads must roll.

    The minimum is de Kock must be dropped completely. Faf must be dropped from ODIs and limited to T20s. Likewise Miller must be confined to T20s. It's clear that RobbieP&McLaren will never be sufficiently effective at both disciplines so we must invest in a specialist spinner&seamer and forget these two with 2015 in mind.

    Unless de Villiers is replaced as captain, all efforts for improvement will be leaderless! There is room for captain Albie Morkel in this team.

  • Arshad on August 9, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    To divert the fans' attention from disgraceful losses, teams these pick up a non-issue and escalate it in the media. Very smart, in this case also.

  • ZCF on August 9, 2013, 8:45 GMT

    @Gregg22, spinner-seamer is not the basis of my argument. Your perceived ignorance on my part is irrelevant. I could say the same about you, but that would be cowardly. It's not about his durability which is never in question, but Steyn wasn't ready. Since he was prematurely deemed to be, he should've been a straight swap for Morris. Period! Faced with having to drop Tsotsobe instead, and the ensuing outcry, a well performing Phangiso was sacrificed.

    Anyway, Ntini was always unfairly regarded a liability in the field by many. Tsotsobe is not the first, and the next time another player is attacked in the same manner, I assure you in advance that he will have something in common with these two. Watch this space.

    Zimbabwean cricketers drop catches all the time. It has nothing with their fitness. Why should it be the case where Tsotsobe is concerned. My overall view of the Proteas' fielding is that for a long time now, they've ALL gone sloppy. Has Amla been unfit his whole career?

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    Lonwabo is a quality performer for us, great bowler. But he looks unfit, and his fielding was awful. Domingo is spot on. Politics or not, standards must never drop.

  • Norman on August 9, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    I'm very happy that Domingo 'called out' Tsotsobe. There was not a hint of insult or degradation. He had to adress the elephant in the room. Lopsy is clearly a quality bowler with amazing skills and natural ability. That being said, i have never seen such horrid performances in the field from a South African player. Tahir is supposed to be the 'weak link' ito fielding, but Tsotsobe made him look like Jonty out there. Dropping a catch or two can happen to anyone, but with Tsotsobe it's becoming a habit. I'm not even gonna mention his ground fielding. @ ZCF_Outkast your comment seems to be filled with racial undertones, but i suggest you improve your knowledge of the game and SA cricket in general. Hopefully then, you won't be suggesting that Phangiso gets picked over Steyn, who hardly ever gets injured period. Even if Steyn had a broken arm i'd still pick him over anyone else :).

  • Fitzherbert on August 9, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    Tsotsobe has always performed for South Africa and it is rather strange that the coach is publicly trying to question his fitness and work ethic. Morkel was one of the worst bowlers on show in the one-day series. Was he fit? What about Morris who was taken to the cleaners by the SL batsmen. Was he fit? Tsotsobe should be congratulated for his outstanding performance in the series rather than being portrayed as a fragile individual. Why was Tsotsobe dropped from the test squad? He was performing admirably and then suddenly lost his test place. There is a fast bowler named Gqamane. His statistics are outstanding. Why isn't he getting a chance to show what he could do?

  • ZCF on August 8, 2013, 17:07 GMT

    It's interesting how the insistence on picking both Parnell&Marchant ahead of Gqamane during tour matches, has resulted in them breaking down soon after.

    A consideration of the national team reveals the same. Steyn leapfrogging Phangiso because they did not want to drop Morris during the CT2013 and could not drop Tsotsobe either. Steyn is back to the treatment table.

    Ironically Tsotsobe who they went to the point of excluding from the squad has "somehow" held up for much longer. Concerns around Morkel still remain, but hesitation has never applied to him and others.

    Perhaps at some poitn we'll find out why Zondeki and Ngam never recovered so many times as these others have, or been thrown into games half fit like Steyn et al.....

    It seems for some slight injuries amount to careers ending. My advice to Tsotsobe, never acknowledge any injury unless your private doctor can confirm that it's precisely what the team says. You may retire in a year or two, only for others to last longer.

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