There would have been a few South Africans who rubbed their eyes repeatedly on the morning of the 26th of December 2021 as Marco Jansen ran in to bowl against India, just to make sure they were really seeing what was on the TV. The 21-year-old had, of course, flown under the radar before his international Test call up, which meant that most Proteas fans hadn’t yet had a glimpse of the lanky left-arm quick.
But there he was on Boxing Day morning, cruising up to the wicket effortlessly to bowl left-arm seam. Indeed, there would have been many double-takes from supporters in the Rainbow Nation, followed by excited messages sent to WhatsApp groups up and down the country to see if everyone else was witnessing the same thing. Perhaps there would have even been a tear or two rolling down the faces of the more ardent fans, given the significance of what this could mean for the Proteas in the future.
Conversely, in living rooms around London, Lahore, New Delhi, and Melbourne, there would have been those shifting nervously in their seats as Jansen bowled, also aware of what this could mean for South Africa’s opposition. So, why has the world reacted this way and why have South Africa’s chances of winning the World Cup in 2023 come down in the latest cricket betting odds for the showpiece in India, where they’re now priced at odds of 9/1 to clinch the title, since Jansen arrived on the scene?
To put it plainly, left-arm quicks are like hen’s teeth in Test cricket, but when they do come along, they tend to enjoy a long and illustrious career in the game. You only need to think about Chaminda Vaas, Wasim Akram, Mitchell Johnson, and even Zaheer Khan to get a better understanding of how destructive a left-arm quick can be.
Perhaps you can say this X-factor is generated by the angles they create at the crease upon delivery and how much they play havoc with the decision-making of batsmen as they are always kept in two minds. Often, they typically work in tandem with a right-arm fast bowler, which means that batsmen have to keep adjusting their stances to allow for the revolving risk of LBW, bowled or caught behind.
Now the majority of these bowlers are well over six feet, with Vaas being the exception to the rule. In Jansen’s case, however, he is considerably taller than all of them at 6-feet and 8-inches, which is bound to help him get an even steeper bounce than his predecessors from the left arm quicks club.
In essence, it’s going to be a nightmare facing him on most pitches around the world and even on the more docile decks of the subcontinent that typically favour spin, Jansen will be the bowler with the skills in his armoury to extract the most joy. In other words, the South African will make the ball sing on most pitches around the world when he sends through his skilled seam that invariably beats the batsmen after kissing the surface.
In fact, we saw that against India as the South African took 19 wickets at an average of 16.5 to help the Proteas win the Test series 2-1.
Having enjoyed such a successful debut against the world’s finest Test team, one can say with a degree of certainty that Jansen will help South Africa conquer the world over the next 15 years.