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    Marco Jansen's Hiatus: Balancing International Duty and Player Welfare
Marco Jansen's Hiatus: Balancing International Duty and Player Welfare
Marco Jansen. Source: sabcsport.com

Marco Jansen's Hiatus: Balancing International Duty and Player Welfare

Marco Jansen's omission from two Tests in the West Indies next month and two more at home against Bangladesh in October for "rehab and conditioning" has sparked concerns.

Discussions about the strain T20 franchise leagues place on international players are common. Critics often argue that T20 is detrimental to cricket, leading with opinion rather than fact. The undeniable fact is that boards like CSA cannot compete with the financial rewards players earn from T20 leagues.

Consider Jansen's workload since March 2023: out of 2,170 deliveries bowled, 1,179 have been for South Africa—54.33% of his total. In contrast, T20 leagues accounted for 16.04% of his deliveries, with the IPL responsible for only 10.23%.

This trend is similar for other South African fast bowlers. Kagiso Rabada has bowled 62.44% of his deliveries for South Africa, with just 20.87% in the IPL. Lungi Ngidi hasn't bowled a single ball in the IPL, but has delivered 710 balls for South Africa, accounting for 69.20% of his workload.

Anrich Nortje's deliveries for South Africa constitute 36.65% of his total, while Nandre Burger's figure stands at 19.57%. Nortje has recently focused solely on T20 cricket, and Burger has played only six games for South Africa since his debut across formats in December 2023.

Contrary to popular belief, South Africa's top fast bowlers primarily play for the national team. Scheduled to compete in 24 matches across three formats in over six months, player management is crucial. Fast bowlers, who have delivered 69.57% of South Africa’s balls since March 2023, are a priority for this management.

Shukri Conrad mentioned during a press conference that the decision to rest Jansen involved extensive discussions with Rob Walter and the medical team. Given the busy schedule—including two months at the IPL, followed by a World Cup and the MLC—it was deemed essential for different players to get breaks at various times.

Conrad explained that Jansen's current break allows for substantial rehab and conditioning work, including any necessary technical adjustments. Jansen will miss the West Indies and Bangladesh series but will be prepared for the Sri Lanka and Pakistan series. Another bowler will rest during the Bangladesh series and be ready for the subsequent matches.

The aim is to manage players properly, ensuring they have time for physical and technical maintenance. Conrad accentuated that this is not a holiday but a strategy to keep the fast bowlers fresh.

Balancing what might appear as competing interests is crucial when players are involved in multiple formats. Half of the 16-man squad for the Caribbean Tests participated in the T20 World Cup. Conrad insisted that the Test squad takes precedence, but acknowledged the importance of having everyone fit for the Champions Trophy in February.

He stressed that the goal is to ensure South Africa performs well across all formats, aiming to win finals and excel in the World Test Championship.

Jansen's need for a break is justified. Since conceding 17 runs in an over against India at the World Cup, his performance has declined. His economy rate of 9.72 was the highest in that match, and he went wicketless in the semifinal against Australia.

Although Jansen improved at the T20 World Cup, taking seven wickets with an economy rate of 6.83, he hasn't matched his early Test success of 41 wickets at an average of 21.66.

Jansen's talent is unquestionable, but he needs to regain his form. "Rehab and conditioning" is indeed necessary for him to return to his best.

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