Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
7 May 2021
5:51 pm

Free agents must show full commitment to Proteas – Smith

Ken Borland

"No-one has a definitive right to play for the Proteas, it’s up to the selectors and the player's performance on the field."

Chris Morris is one of several free agents who may be considered for the Proteas T20 team for the World Cup later this year. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Doing well in the Indian Premier League will obviously help, but CSA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith says free agents will need to prove their total commitment to the Proteas if they are to earn a recall to the national side.

Faf du Plessis, Chris Morris, AB de Villiers and Imran Tahir all put in noteworthy performances before the IPL was suspended earlier this week, one match away from the halfway stage, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many fans would want all four of them to be back in India in October, representing South Africa at the T20 World Cup.

Smith said that while the door was not closed for them to be selected, there were certain conditions that needed to be met first.

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Asked specifically about all-rounder Morris, he said: “I notice Chris said there have not been discussions with him, but he joined the high performance programme in lockdown last year.

“No-one has a definitive right to play for the Proteas, it’s up to the selectors and the player’s performance on the field. Lately Chris’s performances have been really good, both in the IPL and in our T20.

“But we can’t choose someone who is going to go in half-arsed, who is 50/50 about it,” Smith said this week. “We need to know that the player is fully committed and will do everything required and everything for the team.

“It’s a question that applies to all of the free agents, who are technically still always available for the Proteas. AB de Villiers has officially retired so that’s a different discussion that is ongoing.”

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The West Indies have won two of the last three T20 World Cups despite many of their top players being scattered around the globe, and free agents like Chris Gayle, Samuel Badree and Andre Russell did the business for them in the last tournament, held in 2016 in India.

“The free agents are generally more experienced in the format than most players and we’ve seen the success the West Indies have had using them, so it’s definitely something we would consider,” Smith said. “But the selectors also have to consider team dynamics and the type of players we have in our own system.

“Right now the focus is on trying to get the best squad together in the build-up. We have 15-17 T20s lined up, including plenty of sub-continent preparation, so the squad will have plenty of time together. It should be a nice build-up for October.”