Robin Peterson will lend variety to the Proteas bowling attack on a flat deck at St George’s Park.
South Africa have every right to feel pleased with themselves after a resounding victory over the West Indies at Centurion. The tourists played badly, and missed the likes Chris Gayle. I would go so far to say that there aren’t many players in the current lineup who are Test quality. That said, South Africa deserve credit. They performed well in every department and would have gained more from the contest than just another win.
The one issue of concern is the series-ending injury to wicket-keeper batsmen Quinton de Kock. While the Proteas have a fine wicketkeeping alternative in AB de Villiers – for the short term – there is some debate over who should replace De Kock at No 7. For me, the selectors need to take the nature of the St Georges Park track into account. They need to back a specialist spinner in the coming contest.
I wrote recently that Imran Tahir should have been in the Test squad for this series. Traditionally, the West Indies batsmen have not played wrist spin particularly well. Somebody like Tahir would have added value, and complemented South Africa’s world-class seamers. It’s a shame that he wasn’t included.
The Proteas are also without JP Duminy, who usually fills the all-rounder role as a middle-order batsman and off-spinner. In the absence of a specialist spinner as well as Duminy at Centurion, South Africa relied on opening batsman Dean Elgar to bowl a few overs. While he was fairly economical and picked up a wicket, the Proteas will need more than a part timer at St Georges Park. They will need a specialist, and at this point, the only man in the squad who fits the description is Peterson.
To go into the next game without a specialist spinner is to take an unnecessary risk. The conditions will be very different to what was experienced in the first Test at Centurion. The Proteas will need more variety in their attack.
The likes of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander look to be in top form, but they won’t receive much assistance from the pitch at St Georges Park. Wickets will be harder to come by, and I’m sure the West Indies will be warier of the South African seamers than they were at Centurion. The tourists will prefer to target a spinner, and this could lead to wicket-taking opportunities for the Proteas. Somebody like Peterson could cash in.
The Proteas don’t need to replace De Kock with another batsman. I thought the batting was especially good at Centurion. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers were exceptional, and Stiaan van Zyl did very well on debut.
Even the openers, Elgar and Alviro Petersen, did a fine job in difficult conditions. I wrote last week that Petersen needs to start delivering at the top of the order. While his response at Centurion wasn’t emphatic, he did show some ticker to see off the new ball. He needs to build on that now and make the most of the next two games.
Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2 256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.
Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
Name of Bank: Standard Bank
Account Number: 281 464 359
Branch: Fourways Crossing
Branch Code: 009 953
Type of Account: Trust Account
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