South Africa have brought in former captain Graeme Smith as a batting consultant for the rest of the series against England.
The announcement was made at Hashim Amla’s pre-match press conference ahead of the New Year’s Test, which starts at Newlands on Saturday.
Smith has been serving as a commentator for SuperSport and was critical of South Africa’s performance in the Durban Test and questioned the decision to give AB de Villiers the wicketkeeping gloves.
‘Russell [Domingo] has always been a big advocate of getting somebody in to be a sounding board for the batters,’ Amla said.
‘To get Graeme on board now, Graeme being the quality cricketer that he is, fits the role perfectly. Graeme has got a good know-how about Test cricket and that’s what Test cricket is about. It’s about know-how, having a feel for the game and we’ve got a lot of youngsters that can draw on that.
‘Graeme can give guidance to the batters, which he already has today,’ said Amla. ‘It is a confidence type of thing. You’ve got to almost refresh what the processes are that made you successful.
‘Graeme knows more than most how tough it is to play cricket and how it is to go through tough times. Early in his career there were a few crushing defeats and he is well aware of how difficult it is and how important it is for a team to reassess and get back.’
Amla confirmed Dale Steyn has been ruled out of the match due to injury, but Kyle Abbott came through a fitness test on Friday although a final call on his availability will be made shortly before the toss.
It was also strongly hinted that Quinton de Kock will make his comeback to the Test side to take over the wicketkeeping duties from De Villiers.
His inclusion means JP Duminy or Temba Bavuma are likely to miss out.
‘We still have have to make a call on whose position he will end up taking,’ Amla said. ‘He is giving us the option of taking a load off AB. He will obviously stay at 4. It’s not 100% confirmed as yet.
‘Quinny has been in very good form with the bat. He got a hundred in the first-class game he played. If he gets a go, then at least there’s somebody who has been playing well and will ease the keeping duties for us.’