With Dale Steyn out injured again, the SACricketmag.com writers pick their team to face England in the third Test at the Wanderers.
Obviously only players part of the current Test squad have been considered.
Jon Cardinelli: While Dane Piedt has done an outstanding job in recent Tests, the Proteas cannot afford to go into the match at the Wanderers with only three frontline seamers. It’s a massive Test in the context of the series, and I’d back Kyle Abbott, who has not looked out of place at this level, ahead of the untried Hardus Viljoen. The selectors seem determined to stick with Stiaan van Zyl at the top of the batting order, which makes no sense in the short or long term. While Rilee Rossouw must be elevated in the near future, it would be a mistake to slot him in at the top of the order, just as it’s been a mistake to persist with Van Zyl in that position. It’s high time that Stephen Cook, a genuine opener who is in the runs, is given a chance but until he’s in the squad, I have to stick with Van Zyl.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (c), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Chris Morris, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.
Kobus Pretorius: South Africa haven’t been able to field a settled XI in the series so far which isn’t ideal, but injuries have forced their hand. I’m inclined to pick four seamers and leave out Dane Piedt with Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl to bowl some overs when necessary. It then comes down to Kyle Abbott and Hardus Viljoen, and I’ll go with Viljoen. He will be an unknown entity to the England batsmen, he has plenty of pace and an excellent knowledge of the conditions.
He has a good recent track record at the Wanderers where he took 20 wickets in two Sunfoil matches just a few weeks ago and I would back him to trouble England. It may be seen as a risky move, but South Africa will have to gamble at some stage to try and get back in the series. Russell Domingo has described AB de Villiers as a captain who likes to go with his gut feeling and take more risks. Now is as good a time as any.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (c), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Hardus Viljoen, Morne Morkel.
Tom Sizeland: I’ve gone for a horses-for-courses approach here. JP Duminy in for Stiaan Van Zyl, Hardus Viljoen in for Dane Piedt. Quinton de Kock isn’t a long-term option at the top of the order, but his promotion to the top of the order brings Duminy back into the picture. I said at the beginning of the series that Van Zyl should get a couple of Tests. It hasn’t worked out for him. He needs to go back to domestic cricket, make some runs and come back into the mix as a middle-order batsman. If the selectors ever decide to put Stephen Cook in the squad, he will obviously be my choice, but for the time being, De Kock might not be a bad option at a ground he has enjoyed plenty of success at.
Duminy’s 260 was a timely boost to his confidence, and will bolster the lower-order batting at a ground that has seen 316-8 as the highest score in the last eight Sunfoil innings. I’m not saying that he deserves to come back in because of one innings, but he does offer a spinning role that doesn’t need to be occupied by an out-and-out spin bowler. Four seamers is the way to go at the Wanderers, and Piedt’s exclusion means Hardus Viljoen can come in, who is in a rich vein of domestic form and has a fantastic record in Johannesburg. Should Piedt not make the cut, it will be between Viljoen and Abbott.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (c), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Hardus Viljoen.
Mark Salter: Must admit, I was in two minds about the bowling: to go all out and try to blow them off the park, or to retain a bit of spin for the later stages. But it’s all or nothing now. The Proteas have to win, so go for it, I say. I’m bringing in Kyle Abbott, if only for the fact that one of the two newbies, Morris or Rabada, will probably spray it around at some stage and we need a bit of back-up. Elgar will have to hold the fort for a bit, but there is greater scope for rotation and we need to get into their middle order. Stiaan van Zyl must show more responsibility and maturity in a last chance saloon.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.
Test squad: AB de Villiers (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl, Hardus Viljoen.