KOBUS PRETORIUS examines the hosts ahead of the fourth Test between South Africa and England in Centurion.
DOMINGO UNDER FIRE
His team’s fall from the top has been spectacular and now the time has come for Russell Domingo to show he is the right man to help them change their fortunes around. Domingo has so far escaped the tough questions about his own future, and his ability as coach and leader will come under severe scrutiny if things go pear-shaped at Centurion. His job is probably safe until the T20 World Cup, but if this decline spreads to the other formats he might not survive for much longer.
Now that everyone knows AB de Villiers is concerned about his workload and the crammed international calendar, it’s time for him to shift his focus to the task at hand and lead his team out of the hole they find themselves in. It won’t happen overnight, but the building blocks can start at Centurion. De Villiers last scored a hundred in the New Year’s Test of 2015 against West Indies and is due a big score. He’s had starts before, but he needs to kick on and convert those into hundreds.
FAF UNDER PRESSURE
Faf du Plessis has managed to hold on to his spot in the team despite his dry spell with the bat. While everyone has struggled of late, it’s the pace at which Du Plessis bats that is so frustrating. He is clearly low on confidence and has never been known as an aggressive player, but his current approach is merely to survive instead of scoring runs and moving the game forward. JP Duminy must be on the brink of winning back his Test spot while Rilee Rossouw is also still waiting for an opportunity. If Du Plessis don’t turn things around soon, his friendship with De Villiers might not be enough to keep him in the team much longer.
MORRIS’S LAST CHANCE
Chris Morris’s elevation into the side has been a relative success, although if he is going to be one of three seamers more wickets will be expected from him. He offers depth to the batting line-up at No 8 and gives the side a nice balance, but his future in the side is far from decided. A fit Vernon Philander remains a better option – he is a better bowler and probably just as good a batsman on his day. If Morris wants to make sure he’s in the mix come August when New Zealand tour here, he must make it impossible for the selectors to drop him. It’s a tough ask and one that largely depends on his ability with the ball rather than the bat.
RABADA IS A MAINSTAY
Since he burst on to the scene in Bangladesh, most of the talk surrounding Kagiso Rabada has been how to manage the 20-year-old fast bowler so he doesn’t burn out too quickly. The problem is Rabada has become such an important part of the bowling attack in all formats that ‘resting’ him is becoming increasingly difficult. He was South Africa’s best bowler at the Wanderers and has shown maturity beyond his years. South Africa can’t afford to play with his future by not managing him well. He, nor any other player his age, would be able to keep up these performance levels and they will start to drop at some stage. Hopefully his workload will be managed as he continues to grow into a world-class fast bowler.