Two recent comments I have made on this blog were exemplified in the game between New Zealand and South Africa today.
One was that T20 matches are largely won by one player knocking it around for ones and twos while someone blazes away at the other end. Today AB de Villiers, a man eminently capable of the long handle approach himself, showed what a resourceful cricketer he is by doing just that while Richard Levi put the Kiwis to the sword.
de Villiers scored at a run a ball but concentrated on keeping the man who was seeing it like a football on strike. Levi responded by hitting an extraordinary T20 international century in only his second match, one that should see him make a tidy fortune in future IPLs.
Of course, one innings doesn't make a player, but Levi has shown this sort of form enough back home to suggest it was no fluke. Built like a rugby player but with a far better technique than that of an out-and-out slogger, Levi went to the same school as Dominic Telo, where both scored a remarkable number of centuries. Yet Levi has kicked on, whereas for some reason the former Derbyshire batsman never quite got there.
Which brings me to my next point. I asserted that there are plenty of fine batsmen in South Africa who would grace the county game rather than a succession of mediocre players effectively playing Tig as they fly in and out of the country for a few games. Justin Ontong showed glimpses of his talent the other day with four successive sixes at the end of the South African innings and there are plenty of others where they come from.
I'd reckon that Levi, Dean Elgar, Stephen Cook, Rilee Rossouw and Stiaan Van Zyl might be of more appeal to T20 crowds than others of recent vintage. For me, the biggest single improvement the ECB could make for the county game (apart from resigning en bloc...) would be allowing counties to bring in any one overseas player of their choosing, irrespective of international experience.
They might gain useful experience of our conditions and it might - MIGHT - come back to bite us. But by crikey, it would bring in the crowds. They used to flock to cricket matches as they never got to see the names that filled the newspaper sports pages in any other way. Nowadays, in an era when there's probably a reality show somewhere that shows them going to the bathroom, a few new faces would be a refreshing thing. I know there's visa regulations and the like to consider, but I wouldn't consider such things impossible to circumvent.
Not every county has a Guptill, Khawaja and Rana you know...