The Proteas’ selectors have missed a trick by not picking David Miller, Rilee Rossouw, and Imran Tahir in the Test squad.
Much has been said about the quality of the West Indies side that has been selected to play South Africa in a three-Test series. It is not a lineup that is going to demand the very best of the Proteas this summer.
And yet, the Proteas have plenty to prove after such a disappointing ODI series in Australia. They need to lift their standards and start winning consistently. I read recently that ODI captain AB de Villiers felt South Africa were the better side over the course of the series in Australia, but the results say otherwise. In my opinion, the performances weren’t up to scratch either.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Proteas stick with a similar combination over the next three Tests, as they need to build some momentum. That said, I am surprised that the South African selectors have favoured some conservative options. It is especially surprising since this West Indies side is not particularly good against spin bowling, and given that the islanders’ own attack is limited.
I would have favoured Imran Tahir over Robin Peterson. Traditionally, the West Indies struggle against wrist spin. This West Indies team will enjoy the fact that the off-spinner Peterson has been backed. Peterson will pose fewer threats than somebody like Tahir. I would have liked to have seen Tahir involved, as his variation provides a captain with more options.
JP Duminy and Dane Piedt are unavailable because of injuries. Duminy has proved himself a good spin-bowling option, and has the ability to play some important knocks with the bat. While his absence shouldn’t cost them the game at Centurion, they will not boast the same balance.
Stiaan van Zyl has been rewarded for his consistency in the domestic game, but I wonder if he deserves an opportunity in the Proteas middle order ahead of a few other promising players. Going forward, I’d like to see Duminy, David Miller, and Rillee Rossouw competing for two places in that middle order. Miller is a quality player and deserves an extended opportunity with the Test side. Rossouw has made some impressive scores in the four-day game, and looks to be a bright Test prospect. I would involve Rossouw sooner rather than later.
It’s vital that South Africa wins the coming Test series convincingly. Cohesion will be important, but I’m sure that a few individuals will be looking to make a statement.
Vernon Philander has lost a bit of zip, and he will need to find form early in this series. At his best, Philander complements Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, and that combination can be devastating. Kyle Abbott has been pushing hard, though, and deserves an opportunity at some stage in this series. The pressure is on Philander to produce the goods.