South African left arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj has expressed his desire to lead his country in International Cricket. His potential as a leader at the highest level has remained unexamined.
He has experience as captain for 20 matches across formats at franchise and provincial level, and was captain of the Dolphins when they were declared winners of the One Day competition in March after the season was truncated by the lockdown. The Dolphins were supposed to face the Knights in the semi finals with the Lions and the Warriors clashing in the other semi. But, with the coronavirus pandemic halting Cricket, Dolphins were declared champions by virtue of topping the table with 7 wins out of 10 matches.
As the Dolphins, who won seven of their 10 games, topped the table, they were given the title. Maharaj led the side for six of those successes.
Maharaj has won one and lost one of his four first-class matches as captain, and seven of 10 list A games. He has yet to lead a team in a T20.
In an audio clip released by Cricket South Africa, Maharaj was quoted as saying, “I really want to captain the Proteas. It’s been my dream. Not many people in the Proteas set up know that; a few of them who are close to me do know. I want to captain the South African team across all three formats and I want to raise a World Cup trophy in my hands as the leader of the side. Apart from playing for the Proteas, captaining the team in a World Cup-winning campaign would be everything I’ve ever dreamed of. My life would be fulfilled from a cricketing perspective.”
Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen and Dean Elgar have been listed as in the running for the only current vacancy, the Test captaincy, which became available in February when Faf du Plessis resigned. None of them have expressed their aspirations as boldly as Maharaj.
South Africa have never been led by a specialist spinner in their red ball Cricket history. Out of the 15 captains to have led the Proteas in ODI Cricket, Johan Botha, who is an Australian citizen now, has had the privilege of being the only spinner to have led South Africa. Botha is also the only spinner to have led them in T20I Cricket.
Maharaj, who was set to get married to his fiance Lerisha Munsamy on the 2nd of May, had their marriage postponed due to the virus. About the same, Maharaj said, “It was tough having to accept the ramifications of the COVID-19 lockdown, but it gives us more time to make the wedding even more perfect than it was going to be.”
Being isolated from his teammates had afforded him time and opportunity to think. And to dream. “I’ve learnt I can be very patient,” he said of his lockdown experience. “I also found out I’m a lot more determined than I used to be.”