Durban - There are some sportsmen and women who are just unlucky in that they never achieve their true potential. Either they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time or their own loyalty prevents them from doing so.
Here are five highly under-rated sports stars you can still appreciate ...
SEAN WILLIAMS (Zimbabwean cricketer):
The 35-year-old has been a loyal servant of Zimbabwe cricket since 2005 and has been in excellent form on their current tour of Sri Lanka, scoring a ton in the opening ODI and following that up with 48.
Williams is going to retire as one of the most under-rated all-rounders of the modern era. Had he opted to leave Zimbabwe, he’d probably have made it into the first team of most major cricketplaying nations.
Williams has a Test batting average of 41.36, which is not only rare for an all-rounder but also better than any of the current Proteas specialist batters.
TOMAS SOUCEK (West Ham United footballer):
Under David Moyes, West Ham have been transformed from Premier League relegation candidates to Champions League contenders with Soucek being a key player.
Though a defensive midfielder, Soucek is strong in attack and won
217 duels in the Premier League last season, the most of any player. He has formed a clinical partnership with Declan Rice, helping the latter develop into a world-class player and in doing so, becoming a key figure for England.
TAPELO XOKI (AmaZulu footballer):
The defender has yet to play for Bafana Bafana but was a key presence for Usuthu, who unexpectedly finished second in the Premiership last season under coach Benni McCarthy.
Xoki is a hard-working, tough tackling player who can track back well. He is also adept at set-pieces and is often entrusted to strike free-kicks for AmaZulu.
Rudi Second ( Warriors wicketkeeper batter):
Had Quinton de Kock not owned the Proteas’ keeping role for the best part of the last decade, Second would have been a national team cricketer long ago.
With a first-class batting average of 44.23 and a List A average of
42.60, Second’s numbers suggest he is international material. Many have played at that level with inferior stats.
Instead, he finds himself uncapped in any format of the game for the Proteas at the age of 32.
With the Proteas taking a liking to 24-year-old Kyle Verreynne in Tests after the retirement of De Kock and the latter set to continue playing white-ball cricket for the Proteas, it remains to be seen if Second will eventually get his chance at the highest level.
Lance Stroll (Formula One driver):
Stroll is largely hated and mocked as a symbol of ugly capitalism in the sport because his father has owned the various racing teams that he has driven for. Teased as a “pay driver”, he may not be world drivers’ title material but is good enough to race in the pinnacle of motorsport.