Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tsotsobe to leave Essex after comments on Twitter

A lot has happened off the field down at Essex again today. Yesterday, Tsotsobe came out with the above tweet and today it has caused a bit of a stir, leading Paul Grayson to say that Tsotsobe would be "on the first flight back to South Africa" after his short stay at the club has all but ended.

It has not been an easy two months for Tsotsobe off the field either. His coming to Essex was delayed after a family bereavement, so that must have been difficult. He also must have realised that he, as Grayson admitted, was the third choice behind Peter Siddle (a deal had been done but Siddle pulled out, probably scared that the Barmy Army would appear at Chelmsford) and Tim Southee (who has now joined Scott Styris as one of Essex's overseas Twenty20 players). 

It's difficult to comment on Tsotsobe's performances without having actually seen him in action for Essex, but from what I've heard, read and seen on the scorecards, it's also been a torrid time for him on the field as well.

His bowling debut against Northants wasn't easy, as he went for over 154 and bowled 15 no-balls. Understandable after having not played cricket for a month and coming to a country with a different climate and a different ball to have to learn to control. He improved after the high scoring draw at Northampton as Essex returned to Chelmsford and faced Glamorgan. All together he bowled 35 overs for 128 runs, far, far better than the 27 he bowled at Northampton. However, whilst the economy rate came down, Tsotsobe only picked up two wickets and it was listening to his second Pro40 match against Lancashire that something seemed to be wrong.

He took four wickets in this match, and he dragged his economy rate down from over 9 to less than 6. But as I listened to the commentary on BBC Essex, Tsotsobe didn't seem interested. He had his hands in his pockets and his attitude just didn't seem right. It was something that the BBC Essex team went on about for a while, as Tsotsobe was not bowling particularly well until he finally picked up his four wickets. To be fair to Essex, they stuck with him, even though his economy rates were astronomically high (although against Notts, everyone's rates were astronomically high, even the carthorse of Dave Masters). 

After the four Pro40 matches in which he picked up seven wickets at 29 each, it was back to County Championship cricket as Essex faced Derbyshire in Derby. It did not go well for Tsotsobe. In an attack where the other four bowlers all went for around 3 an over and bowled only 5 extras between them, Tsotsobe bowled 8 no-balls and had a rate closer to 5. Not exactly ideal when you're wanting to keep the pressure on. In Derbyshire's second innings, with Derbyshire requiring 223 for victory, Tsotsobe did not open the bowling as he had done in the first innings.

After this performance, Tsotsobe was dropped for the match against Surrey and in came Graham Napier, who'd been out with injury for the majority of last season. Napier went beserk with the bat, picked up a couple of wickets in Surrey's innings and went for about 4 an over. Maurice Chambers, who had been playing for the second eleven, took up the honour of not bowling well and went for over 6 an over as Surrey chalked up 506 in reply to Essex's 548.

Tsotsobe returned to the team on Sunday for another Pro40 against the Unicorns down at Chelmsford, which will almost certainly be his last first team appearance for the county. He took one wicket and went for 39 off 8, so far better than some of his previous exploits. He took 8 wickets at 30.25 a piece during his Pro40 outings. 

The above tweet was posted on Monday and I assume it was probably done after he had been give some idea that he hadn't done enough to regain his place in the County Championship side. Instead the 17 year old Reece Topley, doing his AS levels at the Royal Hospital School in Ipswich (what is it with Suffolk and producing youngsters with some talent at the moment?) was called back into the side, although he only arrived at the ground today 20 minutes before play. It's certainly one way to celebrate the end of your exams! 

Like I said, it's difficult to judge Tsotsobe on just scorecards and what I've read/heard, but I do feel slightly sorry for him. He's clearly unhappy here, he's a long way from home and he probably thinks he's not been given a fair chance. But, once again, it's another incident of a person in the sporting world using Twitter to air their disapproval and in the case of Tsotsobe, it's got him sent home and a first-class coach questioning your attitude as an international cricketer. 

After the loss of Kaneria due to spot-fixing allegations and the ill-fated Twenty20 Finals Day disappointment of Dwayne Bravo, it's not been the best year for Essex with regards to some of their overseas players. At least Scott Styris seems to enjoy it here. Hopefully Tim Southee will feel the same way. For now though, Essex and Tsotsobe must move on from this incident. Tsotsobe can return home and prepare for the South African season to begin in October. Essex need to focus on not collapsing when they bat against Middlesex over the next few days and try and carry on their good one day form before the Twenty20 season starts. 


  1. I dont know the entire story being an observer from South Africa, but I am embarrassed by his behavior. I keep thinking of cricketers of old like Alan Border or Kepler Wessels who wouldnt have tolerated this.

    Its very disappointing.whatever the issues, he should have stuck it out. Now he wil waltz back to the SA team where its harder to get dropped than to make the team.

  2. I would assume that he's disappointed that Essex youngsters are getting a chance ahead of him. I'm guessing he probably thinks that because he's an international cricketer, he's guaranteed of a place even though his performances have been poor (Paul Grayson even commenting on them publicly).

    But yes, it is massively disappointing, especially as he's criticising the county I support. I know that the Essex board are writing to the CBSA, so this might not be the last that Tsotsobe hears of the incident.

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