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Blundering selectors leave Bodi out

Source - int.iol.co.za

Consistency, yhat's the currency of any decent selection panel, it helped pave the way for the Springboks to win Rugby's World Cup and it is a reason why selectors, not armchair amateurs, are appointed to make the tough calls.

By way of example, if SA Rugby's vice-president Mike Stofile had been a selector, John Smit and Butch James would not even have gone to France, but would have been replaced by Schalk Brits and Derick Hougaard.

So, selections should be left to those paid to do the job. And the keyword to any settled side is consistency.

Which brings us to Cricket South Africa. It defies belief how Gulam Bodi can be left out of Friday's Twenty20 squad against New Zealand, and the ensuing One-Day Internationals.

Sure, selectors also make genuine mistakes, and sporting history is riddled with one-cap wonders, those players who are given one chance and found to be wanting at elite level.

But Bodi isn't one of those examples. He made his One-Day International, the 89th and most recent South African to do so since returning from isolation in 1991, against Zimbabwe in August and in two innings he hit 83 runs, including one fifty.

On the back of that encouraging performance he was selected as part of the Proteas squad for the inaugural World Twenty20 Championship. But Bodi was asked to pick up the drinks tray, not his bat.

The Proteas then set off for Pakistan, where they won the ODIs and Test series, and it was without the dashing 28-year-old left-handed batsman.

Now, on the back of a home Test series triumph against New Zealand, they go into the limited-overs series, but again Bodi has been discarded.

So, what did he do wrong in his only two opportunities, averaging 41.50 against Zimbabwe? Nothing. So impressed were Cricket SA they they named him as one of their five players of 2007.

With sport's push for transformation, it is inevitable that some black players tried at the cutting edge of international sport are not going to be up to the required standard.

Rugby's Jongi Nokwe is someone who immediately springs to mind, but it doesn't only apply to blacks. Luke Watson, for instance, is a white player who is in danger of going down the "one-cap wonder" route.

A look at the list of the last 10 black players selected to play limited-overs cricket for South Africa shows that only two of them are good enough to be in the current squad of 14.

So, effectively, the selectors are saying that 80 percent of the blacks they picked to play international cricket since 2002 aren't good enough.

If so, that's more an indictment of their abilities as selectors in identifying talent than on the shortcomings of those players.

It needs highlighting that of the last 10 blacks awarded South Africa ODI colours, only JP Duminy and Vernon Philander remain in the latest squad. The other eight, Robin Peterson, Ashwell Prince, Monde Zondeki, Garnett Kruger, Loots Bosman, Alviro Peterson, Thandi Tshabalala and Bodi himself have been sent back to nowheresville.

However, Kruger made the point, before being censured by Cricket SA, that "black players don't want to be part of a squad, they want to play".

There's always the euphoria of being picked to represent your country, but then you want the chance to actually get out there and perform, not cool your heels. That's where the consistency comes in.

Cricket is the one team sport where an umpiring blunder can ruin individual careers.

Luck plays a big part in cricket, but so do the selectors. They blundered terribly with Jacques Kallis, in terms of leaving him out of the World T20 Championship, but then including him in the next T20 squad. With Bodi, they picked him (without playing him), then dropped him.

In 2002 South Africa's selectors gave Martin van Jaarsveld his first Proteas one-day cap, against Bangladesh. He didn't need to bat in the 10-wicket victory.

So they gave him more chances, and in 11 matches his seven visits to the crease amounted to scores of 42, 13, 8, 45, 5, 11 and 0.

Not once did he score 50 runs. Bodi had but two opportunities, and he scored one 50. And the irony is that Kevin Pietersen left the country because Gulam Bodi, a black player, was given preferential treatment by the selectors.

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