Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis said Heino Kuhn should be given ‘a fair run’ despite a high score of 34 in his first three Tests.
If England and the Proteas have one thing in common, it’s their inability to tie down a second opener. Alastair Cook has had 11 different opening partners since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, and Keaton Jennings’ indifferent form has prompted calls for yet another player to move up a spot in the queue. Dean Elgar has seen numerous different partners come and go, with Stephen Cook being the latest casualty thanks to an average of 33.26 from 19 innings.
Heino Kuhn is now on wobbly ground. The 33-year-old averages 13 from his six innings with a high score of 34. After two more failures in the third Test, with scores of 15 and 11, the pressure is on Kuhn to keep his place with Aiden Markram on standby. Kuhn has been bowled twice, trapped lbw twice and caught behind twice, giving the England pace attack plenty of options in which to target the Titans player.
Du Plessis has come to his aid. Starting your Test career in England isn’t the easiest against a strong attack, and Du Plessis feels this should allow Kuhn ‘the series’ to show his worth.
‘Opening the batting as a lot of people say is extremely hard, especially in England and against a high-quality seam attack,’ Du Plessis said. ‘I think it’s important that we weigh that into the equation and give someone a fair run. I can’t tell you what’s happening in the last Test, but I think it’ll be fair on Heino to give him the series.’
‘It is a tough place to make an impact straight away, it’s like a middle-order batsman going into India for the first time,’ the skipper continued. ‘I don’t think we should be too hard on him. It’s been a tough series so far.’
The stat which doesn’t really help Kuhn’s cause is that Elgar tops the run-scoring charts for the Proteas, with 286 runs at an average of 47.6. Elgar has the experience to excel in these conditions, but he did admit that it’s ‘a little bit disruptive’ if the chemistry isn’t there. While he didn’t direct that at Kuhn, it’s clear that Elgar is lacking some substantial partnerships at the top.
‘I feel with opening partnerships you need to have chemistry, you need to know where to get off the mark and where to rotate the strike,’ said Elgar.
‘You need to know what his strengths and weaknesses are. You need to know his game plans and their technique. It’s a tough one, especially when you’re playing in this country where the opposition is high class and bring out the small weaknesses if you have a new combination.
‘It is a little bit disruptive, but from a personal point of view, you’ve just got to stick to your game plan.
‘So hopefully not too far in the distant future, we’ll have a substantial partnership so we can solidify a pair for quite a long time.’
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