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ASLAM KHOTA ON SA CRICKET AND CSA AWARDS

Swoosh:Aslam the WC is over. We choked again. What are your thoughts on the new management team? Is CSA heading in the right direction? Is Gary Kirsten the right man?aslam:Nice Swoosh, you promise 10 questions and you have four questions quadrupled in question one! Very clever! Let’s start from the bottom; Gary is the right chap. Very progressive and proactive as a coach. He should be good but let’s not have too much expectation – we know what happens then. Two – is CSA heading………… yes I think so. Corrie Van Zyl was a stop-gap move and his replacement in an obvious one. A fresh approach is always good and an injection of ideas helped India to the top of Test and world champions. The new coach is assembling a huge team of experts to surround him and the players.  Modern sports are ultra demanding and intelligent management has become the key to success. On paper and judging by the achievements of some, the management looks strong indeed.

Choked again…………. yes, although I’m loath to using that word! My simple opinion is that the selection of the extra bowler over a batsman was the key factor and decision that made Smiths team fall short in the Quarter final stage. They played good exciting cricket and Smith, although lacking in form lead well and the bowlers picked up 10 wickets in every match. Pity! It happens too quickly.

So you were a judge at the CSA Awards. How was the experience? There were some good performances this year by players like Lopsy, Hash, A B and of course Kallis. Judging this year was probably easy?Judging was easy in a sense because the international season and period in review only had 5 Test matches, 8 ODI’s 4 T20’s and the World Cup. The domestic season was full as usual. I have been on the judging panel since inception in 2004 and yes it has been a privilege and an honour to serve.Kallis was outstanding, out of 10 centuries scored by South Africans in the 5 Tests, Kallis made 5 that included his elusive double and became the first Safrican to score two hundred in a match on home soil. AB has been unstoppable in the ODI’s and this time in a dual role as keeper/batsman. Hashim strength of mind and consistency is amazing and Tsotsobe made a good impact in Tests against India, and won the international Pro 20 award. 

Hash scooped up an award again. Must have been proud for the many who have seen this man evolve over the years? Deserving, you agree?Yes deserving indeed. To be chosen for two successive years by your peers as the Players-Player speaks for itself and the fans voted for him as their favourite for the second year running. Hashim is a phenomenon.

Hash as Vice Captain of the One day team and AB Captain. What’s your thoughts? An injection of youth finally?Injection of youth is always welcome. Hashim was the heir-apparent, but chose not to be considered as he wants to concentrate on his batting. I just wonder then why accept the vice-captaincy? If AB injures himself Hashim will end up captaining. A B will also instead be groomed to succeed Smith. Time however and circumstances can change.

Jacque Kallis,  a quality cricketer and a deserving award  for ‘ cricketer of the year’, yet often blamed for his slow pace and inability to follow through in situations we need him the most. How do you view this great cricketer?He is a master of his generation and the best packaged all-rounder for the last ten years. He deserved the awards for his consistency in all formats. Kallis has upped his tempo and that actually resulted in him achieving a Test double ton. He rides the criticism so well and his mental strength and the ability to look past the critics, then turn up and produce over and over again is just simply fantastic.

 Yes he has on many occasions failed to perhaps grab the game and make his presence felt and dictate terms, but having said that, I can’t for now even imagine the team without him. I believe Jacques must on his terms make the call to step back in the ODI’s and Pro20’s, although not immediately. The new batch of youngsters should still have him around for the next few years and then make the call.

Graeme Smith not showing up with the team at the post World Cup Press Conference .Yourviews?Blame the new lady in his life, I say! Yes Graeme abandoned ship in real terms. It was unwise and although his disappointment was palpable, he always took square on his big jaw and should have done the same.

Let’s look at ImranTahir. He scooped up an award; I must admit back home in the local Indian community Tahir was on everyone’s lips. Finally we have a strike bowler that can change a game. As Warne used to say; “Il go for runs, but Il get my man.”  With all the media hype surrounding him as a secret weapon, how did it all pan out for him?Just as we all thought actually, that he will be a success. He has the variety and the guts to employ his talents at the top level. Firstly, and don’t underestimate this comment, but hats off to the boys to make him feel part of the team. That was a vital aspect of him performing and then Graeme and Corrie Van Zyl must be commended for being brave to select him.

Lopsy, Tahir, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel all firing. Are we ready for the Ozzies and Sri Lankans in terms of attack?  True test for Tahir this. Would love to watch him in a Test Match?Are we ready for the Aussies? Are we ever? The one problem is the lads come straight out of winter holidays and fitness programmes, two rounds of Supersport series matches and headlong into the series in October. Doesn’t auger well, but this will be the first stern test for Gary and his team.

Yes the Aussies and Sri Lanka will be interesting for Tahir. They will study videos, gather information from their players on the county scene. The Test matches won’t be easy and will prove difficult because you require patience and leg-spinners are by their very nature extremely exuberant and somewhat impatient. So Tahir will need to spend a lot of time with Gary and Graeme to pace himself.

The attack in general has been good but it’s a must that the support bowlers up their performances. If four front-liners are selected, they must deliver.

Back to the World Cup. India are worthy Champions, do you agree?India was impeccably prepared. The talent has always been there and I believe their ability to withstand the pressure at home was the key to their success. Dhoni must be commended for his enterprising and unpredictable leadership and as we have mentioned Gary and his support staff prepared them superbly.

Lastly did you read Gibbs book. What are your thoughts?No, not yet! Reading others and will probably get there, but in no hurry. He was my favourite stroke-maker after Viv Richards and Brian Lara!

Best of Luck with the commentary for the up and coming tours Aslam. Always great getting your views.THANK YOU!

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