Serious Question about team and sport development
November 13, 2013, 23:00:16
Having had the pleasure to watch today the performance of Chad le Clos (21) at the WC meeting in Peking and of Quinton De Kock at the 20Twenty game against Pakistan in Dubai - one wonders why in Rugby there are numerous call ups of players over 30 to the Springbok Rugby team - is their really no trust in the youngsters playing rugby in SA with the result that we have to fall back on older players who had their glory years many years ago?
People would say swimming is an individual performance - I admit that freely - but cricket is a team sport - where experience often enough take precedence over performance ability - often enough with seriously questionable results. Take for instance the latest ODI series and even the game today into account and I want to point out he following:-
* In the first two ODI's the opening batters for SA were Graeme Smith (35 runs form 58 balls) and Colin Ingram. Both failed badly and put serious pressure on the batters in the lower order. Smith had to return to SA (fortunately) and it was decided to replace the two openers with Amla and Quinton de Kock. They played in the subsequent three ODIs. Amla in the three games scored 63 runs at an average of 21 runs per match - De Kock scored 187 runs in the three matches for an average of 62,6 runs per match, That reduced drastically the pressure on the lower batters and SA won all three games with ease.
* Come todays 20Twenty game - Pakistan scored only 98 runs and Amla and De Kock was sent in to open the batting. Amla made 13 runs from 13 balls and De Kock made 48 not out from 38 balls - and the game was won by nine wickets.
Now why do I mention the above two examples on a rugby board? Firstly one thing is clear in cricket - namely that a cricketer needs excellent sight and hand-eye co-ordination, aside from a strong upper body to be able to hit balls accurately and hard. As cricketers gets older - the main problem becomes the hand-eye co-ordination. In shorter versions of the game that co-ordination is more pressing since players have to hit balls effectively and score run from virtually all balls bowled at them or at least attempt to do that. In longer version a slower run rate is entirely acceptable and batters can play it very safe. That is why the older players often enough fade out of the shorter versions of the game and stay on to play test cricket. By the way one wonders what they are going to do in the upcoming series with Pakistan an India - are they going in the shorter versions of the game going to drop De Kock an bring back Graeme Smith. In my view that would be stupid.
Now what has the above got to do with rugby? More than most people think. In rugby you require bodily strength (physical fitness) and obviously hand-eye co-ordination. What are with extremely rare exceptions, the problems resulting from advancing age encountered by rugby player?
* Hand-eye co-ordination affect the passing and catching games and the passing becomes less effective as players get older. Even Fourie Du Preez have made passes in the past few tests that went astray.
* There is another issue pertaining to physical fitness that is often ignored. Players like De Villiers has admitted that he has a much harder training regime than he had three years ago so as to ensure that he maintains the same level of performance that he had then. That is one of the main problems encountered with older rugby players - they follow the same regime they did in the past and hope they would continue performing like they did in the past. Worst still - they go and play for foreign clubs where a much less strenuous regime is followed and they come back in poor physical condition to play for the Springboks - there are a number examples of those.
* Advancing age has an undeniable impact on speed and that also present a problem for older players - who do no ensure train harder than before to ensure they maintain a reasonable speed. The Club environment apparently does not allow for that and the speed of players like Fourie, Pietersen and Francois Steyn is shocking - to say the least.
* Older players gets injured more easily and takes longer to recover form injuries - probably also because the more strict training regime to compensate for advancing age is not applied by them.
Bearing in mind that the De Viliers's and Habanas of the world is a rare breed and most players do not follow their example - the question in the first instance remains - is it wise to select older players without a more direct control over their training regimes? Control is still possible in the SA franchises - even indirectly - but the moment players leave SA they are operating in a more relaxed environment and the required level of physical fitness is not maintained. Of all the players who left SA for Europe and Japan - only Louw has really maintained the required level - with signs of deterioration noticeable in al of the other Foreign-based Springboks showing some degree of reduction of their performance levels compared to their departure to play for foreign clubs.
Another question to be asked is - do they look carefully enough at older players for signs of deterioration in performances? I doubt it very much - the following example is pertinent about McCaw - but equally so to some of our own players. I took four tests last year in the RC and compared those with the information in corresponding tests this year. The findings were as follows:-
Ball carries - 36 Meters gained in territory gain - 117
Average meters gained per carry = 3,25
Tackles - Tackles made 49 - Tackles missed - 1
Missed tackles ratio = 1.96%
Ball carries - 32 Meters in territory gain - 43
Average meters gained per carry = 1,34
Tackles - Tackles made 49 - Tackles missed - 10
Missed tackles ratio = 16.95%
The above shows definite signs of adecreased level of performance. Nobody in New Zealland would ever admit it - but it is there for all to see. Are there enough checks and balances to see whether our own oldies are not going the same way? I fear not.