Fresh from his match-winning knock that helped South Africa retain the open cricket title, Adam Bacher spoke of his disappointment about the dearth of Jewish players coming through at first-class level.
Bacher, 35, played the last of his 13 Test matches against Zimbabwe four years ago and winding down, he played for two more seasons for Cape Province, playing only one-day and Twenty20 cricket. His last professional game was against his old team in front of 23,000 spectators at the Wanderers.
“Overall, we have produced around 80 players playing at that level. I was the last one which is something that I am proud of. But we have seen a lot of diversity as Jews don’t put cricket as a priority any more. I believe that the talent is still there but the direction has moved away from cricket and they are focusing on education and religion.”
Looking at South Africa’s Maccabiah squad, he said: “We have a very nice squad with some decent club players. But Jewish cricket in South Africa has stopped producing players capable of stepping up to first-class cricket.”
The SA captain hit 88 in the victory over India to extend the team’s winning run at the Games to 33 matches. But he was unimpressed by the standard of cricket at the Maccabiah.
“Teams always have two or three decent players but after you get through batsmen five and six there is not much left, which is disappointing in Jewish cricket,” he said.
Despite GB’s poor performance, Bacher was impressed with what he saw of the squad. “They have definitely improved since 2005 and had more match-winners.”
He was less complimentary about the Australians. “They have been regular fixtures in the final match over the past 20 years and the fact that they are no longer able to compete is a major disappointment.”
As for his own game, he said: “I don’t practice any more. I just play for the enjoyment. Long innings’ are a thing of the past. I see my role as very different to four years ago and want to see the youngsters take on added responsibility. There is no point in the team revolving around me. I’ve taken a lesser role from a batting perspective and want other guys to put their hands up and put in match-winning performances.”
The one man who has impressed him though is India’s star man Benzion Songaokar who scored a half century in each game. “He’s a good bat. He played with me in Israel last year as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations against India A. He is definitely the outstanding player in the competition.”