Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has a full-strength team to choose from, with Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock fit for the Newlands Test against India.
Du Plessis missed the day-night Test against Zimbabwe because of a viral infection. De Kock was forced to give up the wicketkeeper duties to AB de Villiers during the match after straining a hamstring while batting.
At a press conference at Newlands on Tuesday, Gibson confirmed both players are available.
‘Yes,’ Gibson said emphatically when asked if De Kock’s hammy is fine, adding ‘Faf is good to go, he will lead the team.’
However, it’s not in the batting department that Gibson has a selection headache. With the return of Dale Steyn and Chris Morris to the Test squad, the coach will need to make a tough decision on which bowling attack to choose.
Gibson made it clear that he will select a side according to the overhead and pitch conditions. Newlands’ bouncy-green wicket may see an extra bowler selected on Friday.
‘We look at three different sets of conditions in this three-match series,’ he said. ‘Here on the coast, the wickets tend to dry out quickly so we might play an extra bowler. On the highveld it might be different.
‘What we have to do is look at the conditions now and try and pick the best team for the conditions we have. It’s a selection headache but it’s a good headache to have – all the best players in the country fit and available to play.’
When asked what will prevent Steyn from playing, Gibson revealed that he does not want to put too much pressure on the bowler at this stage of his comeback.
‘Dale is fit again. We don’t know just yet whether we will see him this week coming, but hopefully, depending on the selection and makeup of the team, he might well play. Whatever happens, we will select the best team to win the Test match.
‘He had a year’s layoff,’ Gibson added. ‘I don’t think that if we had to pick a three-man seam attack and a spinner, that we would want to put him in that seam attack, in case something happens and he can’t finish the game. We wouldn’t want to take that risk in the first game of the season.’
Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (Titans, capt), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Temba Bavuma (Cape Cobras), Quinton de Kock (Titans), Theunis de Bruyn (Knights), AB de Villiers (Titans), Dean Elgar (Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Titans), Morne Morkel (Titans), Chris Morris (Titans), Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins), Vernon Philander (Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions), Dale Steyn (Titans).
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images