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The Tsotsobe-Morkel conundrum

Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s devastating form against the Bangladeshis should, hopefully, have made the selectors sit up and take note.

Having been consigned to the role of drinks boy for most of the group stages, Tsotsobe reminded all and sundry why he was even on the trip to India to begin with.

Which now leaves the selectors with a bit of a conundrum. Hopefully. SA sporting selectors are a notoriously conservative bunch, as well all know. Surely though, an examination of the stats should be a consideration when picking a side. No?

Morne Morkel has so far in this World Cup taken 6 wickets at 26.83 runs each with best figures of 3/33. He has conceded 4.97 runs an over and has no maidens in 32.2 overs bowled. Tsotsobe in his one match thus far has 3/14 off 5 overs with two maidens. “But it was just Bangladesh!” I hear you say. Well they beat an English side, which beat us having laid down a measly total to chase. Yes Ireland also beat them but that reflects worse on our own team over anyone else.

Of Morkel’s 6 wickets at just under 27 runs apiece haul, 3 wickets came at 11 runs each against Ireland. Against the Windies he had 0 for 35 runs in 8 overs, against Holland he had 0/18 in five overs, against England a sterling 2 wickets for 16 runs and against India 1/59 in 7 overs. While strike partner Dale Steyn nabbed 5/50 in 9.4 overs.

However, given that Tsotsobe has just the one match under his belt at the tourney, a more useful analysis would be to look at how they have respectively fared in the year thus far.

In 2011 Morne has 18 wickets at 16.55 runs apiece with best figures of 4/52.

Tsotsobe has in 2011, 16 wickets at 11.87 each with best figures of 4/22. And this from 6 matches versus Morne’s 10.

Curiously, the Proteas have won 29 of 43 matches with Morkel in the team, while with Tsotsobe they have won 17 of the 20 Tsotsobe has played in. This of course could be misleading as it does not really account for strength of opposition and the context in which the match was played. But for a broad discussion, certainly useful.

Now of course there are always other non-statistical factors to consider in these decisions. Form is but one of them. Morkel and Steyn are a settled combination. Morne is also tall and generates bounce, which, theoretically, is supposed to make it tougher for batsmen to play him. But surely actual results should trump all other considerations. Merit and all that good stuff, yeah?

But from the numbers, or results, it appears that Tsotsobe actually has the edge and it may well be worth rewarding this, going into matches where taking 10 wickets in an innings, and as cheaply as possible, is crucial.

Still a nice headache to have.

Stats garnered from