Things to look out for at the Bloem T20 cricket clash
Forget the frivolity of the format. And never mind the nonentities of the opposition.
SA’s T20 series against Bangladesh starts in Bloemfontein on Thursday‚ and if you are going to pay it any attention it is the unusual suspects you want to watch.
Players such as Robbie Frylinck‚ who 10 years ago was up the creek without a local franchise contract.
Now‚ at 33 and looking more like a bouncer than a bowler or a batsman‚ he could make his international debut.
And left-arm fast bowler Beuran Hendricks‚ who was all set to play in a one-day series against Zimbabwe before suffering a stress fracture of the back in September 2014.
He had‚ at that stage‚ five T20 caps for SA and has not added to them since.
Or Hashim Amla, who has played more than twice as many Tests and almost four times as many one-day internationals as he has T20 internationals.
Might we see more of the hitherto unseen aggression he has brought to his batting in the Tests and one-day internationals against the Bangladeshis?
But Frylinck is the major drawcard‚ unlikely as that might seem considering the squad also features luminaries such as world-ranked AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock.
"The key for [Frylinck] is to execute his skills under this kind of pressure‚" SA captain JP Duminy said in Bloemfontein.
"This is the platform where we all get tested. This is the highest platform‚ where you always want to play‚ and if you can test your skills here and come out on top‚ this is the place you want to play."
Had Frylinck given up on the dream of playing for SA?
"You get to a stage where you say to yourself: ‘Well‚ maybe it’s not meant to be and it’s not going to happen’‚" Frylinck said.
"It did come as a surprise to me but I’ve been waiting for it for a long time and I’m going to give it my best."
From his List A debut for KwaZulu-Natal in October 2004‚ Frylinck has played 342 matches of all descriptions.
Frylinck has pulled on a SA shirt before‚ but in the gimmicky Hong Kong Sixes in October 2012 and Africa Sixes Challenge in September 2014.
He went to the 2011 Indian Premier League for Delhi Daredevils but did not play a single match‚ and he was signed by the Pretoria Mavericks of the stillborn T20 Global League.
In January 2016 Frylinck was slapped with a suspension‚ which was subsequently lifted‚ after an alleged physical altercation with a Dolphins teammate.
Nine months later his haul of 14/62 for the Dolphins against the Lions in Potchefstroom became the best figures recorded in a first-class match in SA.
Stephen Cook and Wiaan Mulder were among his victims — in both innings — and he bettered the performances of bigger names such as Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada‚ who have also claimed 14 wickets in a game but more expensively.
Those ups and downs have earned Frylinck the kind of perspective that is not available to younger players.
"I’m at that stage now where I’m not trying new things‚ I know my game‚" he said.
What of Bangladesh‚ who have not looked like winning any of the five games they have played on tour and have lost all of them by crushing margins?
"If they play good shots‚ they play good shots. If they play bad ones‚ we get wickets," he said.