Like all the other things happening with South African cricket at the moment, this week's round of first-class fixtures was dominated by off-field issues. Cricket South Africa confirmed they will launch an inquiry into Cobras' decision not to meet the transformation targets, which require each franchise starting XI to field a minimum of three black African players. The Cobras provided their reasons for team selection to CSA in writing and will learn their fate in the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, on the field, there were strong performances from international hopefuls, even though there are no selectors to impress. Interim team director Corrie van Zyl was suspended from CSA, along with two colleagues, while the long-term fate of acting team director Enoch Nkwe is unknown. Still, with these being the last round of first-class fixtures before the domestic season segways into the Mzansi Super League for the next six weeks, here's hoping someone was watching.
More runs for Rassie and Raynard
After the maturity he showed at the 2019 World Cup, his first international tour, Rassie van der Dussen's name is cropping up whenever the national team is mentioned. There was no better time for him to go big as he scored an unbeaten 154 for the Lions in their innings win over the Dolphins. Van der Dussen had two half-centuries before this match but if he is to force his way into the Test team, this hundred will be the knock that does it. It also takes his first-class average to a shade under 45.
In Bloemfontein, 21-year old opening batsman Raynard van Tonder scored his second hundred of the competition, this time a double, in Knight's drawn encounter with Titans. Van Tonder's 204 follows his 165 in the first round of fixtures and has sent him to the top of the run charts, 80 runs ahead of his nearest competitor, team-mate Pite van Biljon. Importantly, if Aiden Markram's broken wrist does not recover in time for the England series, van Tonder has ensured he is a serious contender for the spot.
What's in a surname?
Dwaine and Migael Pretorius shared the new ball for the Lions and took 12 wickets between them and they also hold a curious record. They became the first bowlers with the same surname to open the bowling for the home team at the Wanderers.
Test players' redemption
George Linde and Dane Piedt found the going at home much easier than they did in India, where Linde debuted and Piedt made his comeback but both returned with uncertain international futures. After being schooled by the Indian batsmen, Piedt finished as the highest wicket-taker for the Cobras against the Warriors, with seven wickets in the match. Among his victims were the highly-rated Matthew Breetzke and Sinethemba Qeshile. Linde took three wickets in the match but made a bigger statement with the bat when he scored the second first-class hundred of his career, 122. Linde also shared a 102-run eighth-wicket stand with Thando Ntini, who spent two hours and seven minutes at the crease, to give the Cobras a 29-run first-innings lead and take time out of the match, that ultimately resulted in a draw.
Heinrich Klaasen was the other Test player among the runs. He scored 67 in the Titans' first innings against the Knights.
And tough going for other Test players
There was no such luck for Zubayr Hamza who was caught behind for a five-ball duck in his return from India or for Lungi Ngidi, who bowled 23 overs and took just one wicket for 102 runs in the Titans' match against the Knights.
Notable by their absence
After Faf du Plessis' lament about the lack of experience in domestic structures in the aftermath of the India series, it was glaring that the captain himself was nowhere to be seen on the circuit in this round. While it could be argued that the players need rest after a mentally shattering tour, the batsmen, especially, could have used time in the middle, having spent so little of it in India. Those missing in action were Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje earned rest while Dean Elgar (concussion), Keshav Maharaj (shoulder) and Markram (wrist) are all injured.