Friday, September 5, 2008

Arthur concerned over fatigue and Kolpaks

Ryan McLaren is one high-profile South African Kolpak (currently playing for Kent) whom Mickey Arthur desperately wants back on home soil.

South Africa's one-day nightmare against England has at least crystallised two things in coach Mickey Arthur's mind: the need for inaction on one front and action on another. With so many South Africans opting to sign in England as Kolpaks, Arthur is increasingly determined to lure them back to home soil.

The search for new talent has led Arthur to Ryan McLaren, who South Africa are now trying to hook away from a recently-extended Kolpak deal with Kent.

"I have had discussions over the phone with Ryan McLaren's agent," Arthur said. "But Ryan is on an unbelievable deal with Kent, so we will need something extra. But he would provide the all-round depth we need, he's a top-class player and he's had another big season with Kent."

While McLaren is the big fish South Africa are trying to land, the likes of Johan van der Wath, Andrew Hall and Justin Kemp can hardly be regarded as anchovies and they would all provide the power-hitting option down the order that South Africa are seeking.

The sudden urgency over all-rounders is ironic when considering the likes of Lance Klusener, Nicky Boje, Dale Benkenstein and Zander de Bruyn - all South African products and capped at international level - have also fled to England.

Moreover, Arthur is concerned that fatigue is beginning to hamper South Africa's progress. Pakistan may be promising the moon in terms of a tri-series they want South Africa to host to compensate for the postponement of the Champions Trophy, but Arthur believes the tournament is highly unlikely to take place.

"I'm sure the tri-series is not going to take place and, in retrospect, it's a relief the Champions Trophy was called off because we would have been back on a plane flying to Pakistan on Sunday," Arthur said. "I'd like the administrators to remember the team is our product and because they've done so marvellously well it has led to commercial opportunities. But I don't think we should be flogging a dead horse.

"I can't think of one player who was involved in both the Test and one-day series in England who has not picked up a niggle. Graeme Smith's tennis elbow is just through over-use; Mark Boucher has a fractured finger from over-use; Morne Morkel a side strain and Dale Steyn has not recovered properly from the shoulder injury he picked up in the IPL [Indian Premier League]."

So, resting his core players will certainly lead to a better showing later in the year, but Arthur admitted there were doubts over the selection of the limited-overs team going forward.

"We knew the one-dayers would be tough and I don't think a really good England side has got the credit they deserve. But I am concerned about our depth in all departments, but in particular in terms of all-rounders," Arthur said. "In the past we've had teams where we basically have fielded 12 players because of the all-rounders; we've batted down to nine. But in the England series I felt it was 12 against 10 at times."