The Proteas will wait until the last minute before deciding whether to use a spinner on what should be a lively Wanderers wicket for the third Test against Sri Lanka.
Bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said it is not a given that they will use four seamers, as they did the last time they played a Test in Johannesburg, against England.
The relentlessly wet weather has forced groundstaff to prepare the pitch under a tent, and the indications are that it could be a lethal greentop.
‘We need to wait until the last minute,’ said Langevelkdt. ‘The groundsman says there is a lot of grass on the wicket but the weather could change and at the last minute he could take the grass off. But we’re not scared of going in with a spinner.’
The value of Keeshav Maharaj’s left-arm turners is that he can lock up one end and allow a smooth rotation of the seamers.
‘Keshav is economical, he does hold up an end,’ Langeveldt said. ‘When we were playing well in Australia, we were holding up both ends and it gave Kagiso Rabada the freedom to attack the stumps more.’
If they do opt for a spinner, which Faf du Plessis is known to favour, the main debate will be whether the commanders go for Wayne Parnell, who was released from the second Test squad to get some game time, or bring in the new and untried Duanne Olivier, summonsed from the Knights when Kyle Abbott was dismissed after taking a Kolpak deal.
The wise money will be on Parnell, who is more experienced of high pressure situations, having played four Tests and 54 ODIs for South Africa, and a left-armer as well.
‘He brings something different, gets a bit of shape back into the right-hander and does swing the ball up front,’ Langeveldt said.
Parnell last played a Test in February 2014, but after two solid seasons in the franchise system, in which he has also made changes to his action, Langeveldt is excited to see what he can do. ‘It’s going to be a challenge to see what Wayne has to offer. Can we get him to be more consistent in his lengths? Test cricket is all about getting the ball in the right area,’ Langeveldt said.
There was an additional hint from Langeveldt when he pointed out that the leap from franchise cricket is huge, which indicates Olivier may have to wait for his debut, unless they feel they can carry him in a four-man pace attack.
‘There’s a huge difference. In first-class cricket if you bowl full and straight and fast you will get wickets. Once a guy gets to the international level, it’s a whole new ball game.’
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