Damn. Theunis de Bruyn is in the firing line again. How very convenient. It’s nice being South Africa’s go-to guy when there is an injury or other absence, but equally uncool being the yo-yo man, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
In and out of the side, according to convenience and circumstance, De Bruyn is getting a raw deal in the Proteas XI.
He’ll almost certainly be the man to sit out the second Test at Newlands, not Duanne Olivier or any other as Vernon Philander returns. Faf du Plessis made that pretty obvious after victory in Centurion.
‘Vernon picks himself at Newlands and his record speaks for itself, so he will definitely be back in the side for that Test match. The headache then will be who we leave out, and I will be honest, it will be difficult to leave out a guy who took 11 wickets in the match. We will see what the conditions are like in Cape Town when we get there, but Vernon will be back in the side for that Test match,’ said Du Plessis.
The Proteas captain should be more receptive to the option of leaving Keshav Maharaj out. Predictable suggestions aside that Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram can turn their arms over for a bit of part-time spin if needed, South Africa should be comfortable without Maharaj in Cape Town.
They were okay without him for the final Test against India at the Wanderers earlier this year. Granted, the hosts lost the match, but that was because of poor batting, rather than a lack of spinner. Maharaj, please note, has only taken five wickets in three Tests in Cape Town.
If De Bruyn is deemed surplus to requirement in the new year, it’ll be another slap in the face for someone teetering between being a loyal servant and a door mat.
The recipient of just seven Tests across all of 20 months, he has never been afforded more than two in a row. He has batted in five positions across 14 innings. Infrequent selection and unstable positioning, indeed, has done him a disservice. Cricketers have left the country on Kolpak deals for less – think Stiaan van Zyl, Rilee Rossouw.
True, De Bruyn hasn’t impressed convincingly so far. Other than a maiden century in Sri Lanka and a tidy 48 against England at Lord’s, there are a string of single-figure failures, punctuated by unconverted starts littered across his fledgling Test record.
At this rate, if the Proteas are not going to allow him an extended run in the team – with a reasonable amount of time to fail and succeed – they might as well draft in Zubayr Hamza instead.
Three years younger, evidently more talented, certainly more in form domestically, and with a first-class average significantly higher than De Bruyn, he is largely more the face of South Africa’s cricket future than the man in question.