TT Epaper
The Telegraph
TT Photogallery
 
CIMA Gallary

Andrew: As captain, AB’s very instinctive... he’s an inspiration

Chief Selector says Kallis has to prove himself
Exclusive
Andrew Hudson and Ravi Shastri sign the condolence book for Nelson Mandela, at Kingsmead, Durban, in December 2013. (Getty Images)

Calcutta: Former opener Andrew Hudson, who featured in the South Africa XI on the country’s return to international cricket (at Eden Gardens, 23 years ago), has been the chief selector for four years.

The other evening, Hudson, now 49, spoke to The Telegraph. He’s based in Durban.

Excerpts...

Graeme Smith retiring from international cricket soon after Jacques Kallis chose to leave the Test arena...

Smith surprised everybody. But, eventually, when someone who has played the game for as long as he did wants to quit, then you respect the person’s decision. I certainly don’t hold anything against him. Having myself played international cricket, I know a time comes when the mind and the body says ‘enough is enough’. Even Sachin Tendulkar reached that stage, didn’t he?

Kallis’ decision, last December...

With Kallis, we knew that his innings was coming to an end... That it was more a matter of ‘when’... We, the selectors, couldn’t have asked him to continue for another year. That wouldn’t have been respectful.

His take on Kallis wanting to play in the 2015 World Cup...

Kallis is no ordinary cricketer and, whatever the format, he brings balance to the team. A batting all-rounder is rather unusual in today’s game... He’s in our scheme of things, but he’ll have to prove that he’s still good enough and that he actually wants to play at the international level.

On Kallis having to prove himself...

Look, from a selector’s perspective, Kallis isn’t a certainty. We’d love to first see him perform and, then, come to the party. We’ve got around 25 ODIs between now and the World Cup, so there will be opportunities.

Whether Kallis will be selected for the ODI series in Sri Lanka, in July...

Yes, Kallis will be there. After Sri Lanka, we’ll be travelling to Zimbabwe.

Assumption that AB de Villiers, the ODI captain, will be given the responsibility in Test cricket too...

We haven’t decided... The selectors will take inputs from the coach (Russell Domingo) before making a recommendation to the Board.

Final call...

Will be that of the Board.

[South Africa’s Test captain, one learns, will be named after Cricket South Africa’s board meeting on June 3.]

The selectors’ approach towards the Test captaincy...

We’d like to have a captain for the next three-five years. We aren’t looking at the next series only.

AB, 30, as the ODI captain...

From a leadership point of view, as captain, AB’s very instinctive... That’s the way he bats too... He’s an inspiration to his team. The individual’s personality gets reflected in his captaincy.

Faf du Plessis (29), the T20 captain...

No two captains are the same, but if I have to compare Faf with AB, then the former is more thoughtful and is strategic (by nature).

Smith’s record-scripting 11 years as captain...

Having started off when very young (22), Smith made mistakes, but that was part of his development as a captain. He changed in the second half of his reign and a lot of our success in Test cricket was thanks to him... My view is that Smith, the captain, didn’t get the accolades he should have got.

Thoughts on Smith, the batsman...

Smith wasn’t the prettiest at the crease, but his record (9,265 runs in Tests and 6,989 runs in ODIs) does the talking. He played the big moments really well. He had a top-class temperament.

Dale Steyn...

It’s a treat to have Steyn... When Allan Donald finished (in 2003), we wondered when the next fast bowler would come... Well, within two years, Steyn came along... We’re blessed that quality cricketers keep coming through. We’re lucky to have a system that produces good players.

South Africa’s selectors often having to confront non-cricket issues like the quota business...

We do have guidelines (seven non-Whites in a squad of 15, four in the playing 11), but it’s easy as the players really select themselves. The selectors choose as good a team as we can. I’d say we’ve chosen teams on merit.

No.1 challenge facing him and his colleagues...

Managing the players... There’s a lot of international cricket and, then, you have the IPL which takes up so much time... It’s interesting that while the World T20 is for less than three weeks, the IPL runs for as many as six... Even the CLT20 is a distraction... Keeping players motivated is also a challenge. Having said that, we have a good culture and the guys get fired up wearing the Proteas shirt.

Big bucks and the IPL...

All players are professionals and you don’t stop them from earning...If you say that they can’t play in the IPL, then you run the risk of them saying they’re not available for their country!

Test cricket and the present generation...

It’s very refreshing that our group of players, at least, holds Test cricket in high regard. At the end of your career, you’d like to be remembered as a great Test cricketer. Other things later... We’ve been No.1 in Test cricket more than once, something very special.

Openers...

When I played, our job was to take the shine off the ball. Now, openers take the shine off the bowler!

Favourite openers...

Gordon Greenidge and Gary Kirsten in Tests and ODIs; Adam Gilchrist in ODIs.

Lastly... Reflecting on the 23 years since South Africa’s return to international cricket...

We have settled in and are glad to be back. I’m sure the rest of the fraternity is glad as well, glad that we’re back. We’ve had some great series wins, but a mix of unlucky happenings and poor performances have kept us away from a World Cup or a World T20 success... However, what the future holds is more important than what has happened.