The Lowdown

Prince starts to reign at top level

The lowdown on Ashwell Prince

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
04-Jan-2006
With so much cricket played these days it is often difficult to keep track of who is who and what they are doing. In a new weekly feature Cricinfo will take a look at one player who is making the news, whether at the highest level or an aspiring talent, and tell you what they are all about. This week it is the South African middle-order batsman Ashwell Prince


Ashwell Prince celebrates his third Test century, but his career hasn't all been a smooth ride © Getty Images
With the current trend of flashing stroke-makers a batsman in the style of Ashwell Prince can blend into the background. However, he has certainly been at the forefront of South Africa's battling performances against Australia and his century at Sydney is the latest chapter in a rollercoaster career. Prince was originally thrown into the Test team in 2001-02, against Australia, after showing promise in provincial cricket, but failed to nail down a place. At around the same time as his Test career stalled, Prince made a stand against the quota system in South Africa, saying that black players were being given a bad name without any thought to their talent. Back on the field in 2004-05, consistent performances for Western Province opened up another opportunity at the top level and he has scored three centuries in his last seven Tests. His dogged style is making him a dependable rock in the South African middle-order.
Timeline
July 1995 - Opens the batting for South Africa Under-19 on tour of England
October 1995 - Makes first-class debut for Eastern Province B
February 2002 - Scores 92 for South Africa A against Australia which earns him a call-up to the national squad for the Test series
February 2002 - Makes Test debut at Johannesburg, making 49 and 28 in a record innings-and-360-run defeat but scores a vital 48 in a consolation win in the third Test. However, after not making a half-century in his first seven Tests he is dropped
October 2002 - ODI debut against Bangladesh at Kimberley
August-September 2004 - Captains South Africa A against Zimbabwe A and New Zealand A
December 2004 - Captains South Africa A to victory over England at Potchefstroom
March 2005 - Returns to the Test team after a two-year gap and hits maiden century against Zimbabwe at Centurion Park
April 2005 - Second Test century, scored on a featherbed pitch at Antigua where West Indies reply to South Africa's 588 for 6 dec with 747
January 2006 - Makes 119 at the SCG, his first century against Australia
Current form
His third Test century, 119 at the SCG, forming a stand of 219 with Jacques Kallis, set the platform for South Africa's 451 for 9. Previously in the series he had struggled against Shane Warne, who has dismissed him nine times in six Tests, and had fallen to a couple of rough umpiring decisions. Before his century he had made 68 runs in four innings, leaving his place under scrutiny, but commitment and hardwork was rewarded in grand style.
Vital stat
Has passed fifty on three occasions in Tests and has converted them all into hundreds. So bowlers beware, get him before 50 otherwise you are in trouble.
What he says - Prince on the quota system (In the latest issue of the South African edition of The Wisden Cricketer)
"It doesn't matter what colour you are; talent can only take you so far. You are never going to achieve anything in cricket without hard work. The quota or 'target' system is wrong for one simple reason - it messes with the minds of both white and black players. 'Am I here because I am black?' 'Am I left out because I am white?' "
What they say - Peter Roebuck in The Sydney Morning Herald
"Not the least remarkable aspect of his batting was the calmness of his manner. Most batsmen enduring bad patches and dogged by ill-fortune bring baggage with them to the crease. Prince's approach is simple. He does not attempt things beyond his repertoire. Patience and judgment were the hallmarks of his innings. His technique is as sound as his temperament. His footwork is quick and precise, and his willingness to step down the pitch to the spinners is refreshing."
What you may not know
Prince has continued the pattern of South Africa producing brilliant fielders who prowl around the cover and point areas. However, a rotator cuff injury nearly ended his chances of being a top fielder and therefore having a valuable second-string to his bow, especially in one-day cricket.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo