Johannesburg - If you were to throw a stick of droëwors into the air at the T20 World Cup, it’s likely that it will land on a South African.
They’re everywhere. Coaches, players, umpires and physios who can all swap a heita with a lekker.
For a country that’s never actually won an ICC event, it is startling that the rest of the world enjoys calling on the expertise of South Africans to work with their cricket teams. The presence of a South African in an England side is nowadays unsurprising. Perhaps the biggest shock with the current England team is that Jason Roy is the only one. And yes there is Dawid Malan, who went to Paarl Boys and played for Boland, but he was born in Roehampton so is quite Engels.
New Zealand, a bit like England, likes dotting their team with some South African flavour. While he’s been very cordial about the reasons he had to leave and the fact that he bears no grudges towards anyone in South African cricket, you can bet your bottom New Zealand dollar that Devon Conway would love to repeat Grant Elliot’s 2015 efforts should the Proteas and the Black Caps meet in the United Arab Emirates.
Conway has been magnificent since getting picked and was instrumental in the Kiwis claiming the World Test Championship earlier this year. It was his T20 form that showed the New Zealand selectors he was ready for the international stage. Conway, scores his runs at a strike rate of 151.11, while he averages 59.12, with most of his innings being played in the number 4 or 5 spot in the order.
East London-born Glenn Phillips is looking to make a name for himself at this World Cup. However, maybe South Africa can’t make a big claim for him, given he left the country when he was 5 years old.
Elsewhere, the Dutch – typically – have a strong South African core, including Ryan ten Doeschate who will retire at the end of year, Roelof van der Merwe, Colin Ackerman, Stephan Myburgh and 24-year-old medium pacer, Brandon Glover, who went to school with Wiaan Mulder at St Stithians and was part of the same SA under-19 side with Mulder in 2015.
Namibia will take a bunch of South Africans, but the most noteworthy players are David Wiese, who played 20 T20 matches for the Proteas, and Ruben Trumpleman, the left-arm seamer, who went to Affies and was in the development structures at Northerns.
Namibia will be coached by the former Titans and Easterns all-rounder Pierre de Bruyn, who roped in Albie Morkel as an assistant. In fact, including Mark Boucher, seven of the 20 teams at the tournament have a South African as a head coach.
Besides De Bruyn, there’s Lance Klusener at Afghanistan, Shane Burger heads up Scotland’s coaching staff, Mickey Arthur, who has won an ICC event, when in charge of Pakistan, coaches Sri Lanka, Russell Domingo leads Bangladesh and Graham Ford is with the Irish.
Then there are the assistants and consultants: Ashwell Prince (batting) and Ryan Cook (fielding) work with Domingo and Pakistan contracted Vernon Philander to work with their bowlers. There may be more hidden away somewhere as teams often make last-minute decisions about consultants. Burger for instance, called up Jonathon Trott a few days ago to help the Scots, and Andy Flower agreed to be a consultant alongside Klusener to help the Afghans.
Everywhere you look there’ll be a South African, it’s almost guaranteed that someone with ties to this country will get themselves a winner’s medal – hopefully it will be the right ones.