Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad has explained why Gerald Coetzee was selected ahead of Lungi Ngidi for the two-match home series against the West Indies.
Ngidi (26) has been a regular fixture in Proteas teams in all formats until now, but Conrad has decided to back 22-year-old Coetzee, who was the second-highest wicket-taker in the inaugural SA20, with 17 in nine matches.
Coetzee toured Australia with the Proteas earlier this summer, taking a hat-trick in the warm-up match against a Cricket Australia XI.
“It’s quite simple for me. I believe Gerald Coetzee needs a good run,” said Conrad, who worked with Coetzee at youth level. “We’re all aware of his promise. Now’s as good a time as ever to unleash him, for want of a better expression.
“Without giving too much away, I’d like to believe I’ll be in a position to play all our quicks in Centurion and depending on what the Wanderers conjures up, that starting XI might change.
“It’s purely Gerald ahead of Lungi for me right now. That’s why I’ve gone for him.”
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In another big selection call, Conrad opted for wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen over Kyle Verreynne.
“Kyle’s omission was tough but ultimately I get paid to make certain calls and subjectivity plays a part. This was my conversation with Kyle. He’s done everything that can be expected. But I think Klaasie has done more and deserves a full crack,” he said.
“Klaasie is, in my opinion, not just a batter that we can stick in the field. He’s been battling with an elbow because he’s been forced to be in the field a lot of the time. I’ve always viewed him as a wicketkeeper-batter, so for me it was a straight shootout as to who I wanted. And that’s Klaasie.
“That’s unfortunate for someone like Kyle. The door is certainly not closed to him.”