Morne Morkel’s farewell will spark a snowball effect with the 2019 ICC World Cup set to be the valedictory for key senior players in the Test side.
Some would argue that Morkel, at 33, still has enough in the tank to play for his country, but the lanky speedster made his decision knowing that World Cup selection is unrealistic.
The South Africa summer was the start of a transition. A lot was learned from series victories over India and Australia, particularly that time is up for core players in the side.
Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn are nearing retirement as Gibson faces the impossible task of finding replacements for some of the greatest players the Proteas have ever produced.
Russell Domingo (SA A coach) and Shukri Conrad (SA emerging coach) will be hard at work to find the next big stars but we can start by scouting the domestic scene to find viable squad players for the series against Sri Lanka, which starts in June.
Morkel’s replacement is an easy one. Lungi Ngidi is ready to make the step up. He proved this on his Test debut, finishing with match figures of 7-90 against India. The 22-year-old already has the scalp of the two best-ranked batsmen to his name. He dismissed Virat Kohli twice and Steve Smith once. He has the pace, bounce, stamina and potential to surpass the lanky Proteas legend.
The second to go will be Steyn. But no replacement needed with Kagiso Rabada breaking records every game he plays.
Vernon Philander’s successor is a tricky one. The bulky seamer lacks the pace of his new-ball partners but has the accuracy to hit a R1 coin at will. There is no able replacement ready to fill his role, but Gibson has mentioned Junior Dala and Duanne Olivier as seamers he has looked at.
Looking at the Sunfoil Series, the lack of quality is appalling. Malusi Siboto and Anrich Nortje crept into the top five in the Sunfoil Series standings and bowled well on pitches that favoured spinners.
Gibson name-dropped Nortje in a post-match press conference after the Newlands game. The 24-year-old has 136 wickets in 41 first-class games and took 24 scalps in the concluded Sunfoil Series.
An all-rounder option would be Wiaan Mulder, who is a regular in the Proteas squad.
The major talking point is Amla’s successor. Zubayr Hamza is the most natural replacement for the 35-year-old, whose calmness and textbook technique mirrors the Proteas No 3. Hamza’s Cobras teammate and the Cape side’s Player of the Year, Pieter Malan, is also knocking on the selectors’ door.
De Villiers is irreplaceable, but with Markram’s free-flowing approach upfront, it opens up the chance for a solid No 4 batsman. Theunis de Bruyn seems the likely option, but this is a golden opportunity for a youngster to put their hand up.
The No 5 spot, could see Temba Bavuma move up the order and Heinrich Klaasen slip into the lineup.
Possible future XI: 1 Aiden Markram, 2 Dean Elgar, 3 Zubayr Hamza, 4 Theunis de Bruyn, 5 Heinrich Klaasen, 6 Temba Bavuma, 7 Quinton de Kock, 8 Wiaan Mulder, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Keshav Maharaj, 11 Lungi Ngidi
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