Opinion: Western Province ‘intervention’ must open door for club cricketers

Sunfoil 3-Day CupFile image: Sunfoil 3-Day Cup fixture at Newlands.

Western Province Cricket Association CEO Nabeal Dien recently acknowledged the dire need for an “intervention”, as Western Province go through their “worst set of results in probably a decade.”

Indeed, the side’s ongoing Sunfoil 3-Day Cup campaign has yet to yield a victory in four attempts. Instead, defeats to Border and Boland and draws with North West and Eastern Province have left them languishing toward the bottom of the 14-team standings.

With just over a week to go before a tough fixture again KwaZulu-Natal, who are undefeated in this season’s tournament, the meddling Dien suggested must happen soon with coach Salieg Nackerdien and company.

The most obvious changes required are in the batting department. The team is averaging a mere 181 per innings – and has seen just seven half-centuries. Four of those were scored by players with recent Cape Cobras experience, leaving the individual and collective inadequacies of the bench strength exposed.

Three captains – Qaasim Adams, Zubayr Hamza and Derek Mitchell – in just four matches hasn’t helped attempts for consistency either. With Hamza all but a permanent fixture in the Cobras’ Sunfoil Series unit and Adams there and thereabouts in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge fray, Western Province should have just appointed Mitchell from the outset and stuck with him for the full season.

Dayyaan Galiem and Matthew Kleinveldt are Western Province’s leading run-scorers in the 2017-18 Sunfoil Sunfoil 3-Day Cup, averaging 31.85 and 25.71 respectively, but those aggregates are weak compared to the bulk of the top 30. Mitchell, Michael Loubser, Carlos Koyana and others demand stronger support across the playing XI and squad.

If not from the Western Province Academy or the WPCA premier league, where players like Mathew Goles are performing well on low, slow, drought-stricken pitches but are constantly being overlooked, then Nakerdien and colleagues would do well to look to the first division A, where cricketers like Zac Elkin have performed consistently well for prolonged periods.

Goles and Elkin epitomise the wealth of talent seemingly being ignored at the levels that effectively form the backbone of cricket in the Western Province. Both would be solid choices at the top of the order, while Elkin would prove a sound wicketkeeping option if Koyana or Taariq Chiecktey were ever deemed surplus to requirement.

Their numbers largely speak for themselves, with Goles’ good form characterised by three successive half-centuries for Cape Town Cricket Club against strong Western Province Cricket Club, Ottoman Cricket Club and Milnerton Cricket Club bowling attacks. Elkin’s extent has been marked by four half-tons and a century for Green Point Cricket Club this season. The steely right-hander, who boasts a first-class century, frequently displays his ability to bat for long periods – a desperate need for Western Province in four-day competition.

If not to one or both of them, the provincial brains trust must be obliged to look elsewhere in the first division A and premier league, where the University of Cape Town Cricket Club’s Jack Newby and Bellville Cricket Club’s Lenert van Wyk – and others – are performing well.

Whichever way Western Province’s selection stacks up ahead of the clash against KwaZulu-Natal, one trusts the “intervention” professed by Dien will see fresh faces brought into the fold, rather than the retention of the same players who have had ample opportunity to impress but failed.