The Proteas squad was recently announced for the upcoming Test series against the West Indies. CARL LEWIS discusses the biggest talking points from the 18-man squad.
South Africa will tour the West Indies for the first time in over a decade and are scheduled to play two Tests at the Darren Sammy International Cricket Stadium in St Lucia. The first Test begins on 10 June and the second on the 18th.
The Proteas Test side desperately need a strong performance or just a win after floundering and losing a series in foreign conditions in Pakistan recently. The tour is an opportunity to press the reset button for the Test side under new captain Dean Elgar.
The Elgar era commences
This is Dean Elgar’s first series as the official Test captain of the Proteas, although it’s not his first time captaining the team. While he may not be the most glamorous choice, Elgar is the logical and pragmatic option for a struggling team.
It is hard to see the opener being dropped and he remains one of South Africa’s most consistent batters in a time when the side struggles to post meaningful first innings scores. That’s why I believe, for now, he is the right man for the job.
I am intrigued to see Elgar’s style of captaincy, on previous occasions when he led, I felt he was formulaic in his captaincy and not as proactive as he could’ve been. However, with the fast bowlers and spinners he can call on to bowl, it’s clear Elgar won’t be short of quality and I am sure he is a more rounded and thoughtful captain now.
Fast bowlers will be key
Both Tests will be played at the Darren Sammy Stadium and history suggests there is a lot in it for the fast bowlers. On paper, Elgar has some genuine weapons at his disposal in Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi; unfortunately, the unit has not clicked of late but this could be down to the lack of Test cricket and the fact that their last series was in spin-friendly Pakistan.
This series is a chance for Rabada to remind everyone of his quality as he’s not been at his usual lift standards across all formats. While Nortje will hope his international career continues on its trajectory. It is also a chance for Ngidi to get back to his best, he is a natural wicket-taker and genuinely has the potential to be a star for the Proteas.
QDK’s form and batting position
The form of Quinton de Kock is a major concern for the Proteas. He was recently promoted up the order to five and then six but unfortunately, it did not pay dividends against Sri Lanka or Pakistan where he averaged below 15 in both series.
Personally, I don’t mind de Kock batting at either five or six considering he’s been relieved of the captaincy and now’s there automatically less on his plate.
He can now focus on his batting because he if does not perform, the Proteas generally struggle. Although Markram is the form better, de Kock remains the best South African batter in the squad.
Who will replace Faf?
Former Proteas captain Faf du Plessis retired from Test cricket and there is a lot of intrigue in terms of who should replace him. Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma look set to bat three and four respectively in the Caribbean, this means that either number five or six will be available. Looking at the squad, the most likely candidates are Kyle Verreynne and Keegan Peterson.
Both are deserved, Verreynne for his recent exploits in domestic cricket and the ease at which he adapted to international cricket in limited-overs.
Peterson has for the last few years built an impressive body of work because of his consistency. He was the leading run-scorer in the 2018/19 4-Day Franchise Series, with 923 runs in nine matches. Either way, it is a huge moment for either batter (if they get the chance) to change the trajectory of their respective careers.
The Newbies and Uncapped
Spinner Prenelan Subrayen, left-arm seamer Marco Jansen and opener Sarel Erwee are all uncapped. Subrayen has Dolphins teammate Keshav Maharaj and George Linde ahead of him in the pecking order so it is hard to see him getting a game although his role in the successful Dolphins side earned him this call-up.
Erwee has been scoring runs for fun in domestic cricket but he has the captain and the form man Markram to oust to get his cap unless Mark Boucher throws him into the middle order.
The most intriguing call-up is that of Jansen. The fast-bowler recently made his IPL debut for the Mumbai Indians. Standing at over two metres tall and bowling left-arm, you cannot ignore the raw materials and potential value he offers.
He still has a lot to learn and perhaps the tour is a learning experience for him because he is up against some seasoned international fast bowlers as well as the impressive Lizaad Williams for a place in the team.
Dean Elgar (captain, Northerns), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain, Central Gauteng Lions), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper, Northerns), Sarel Erwee (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Beuran Hendricks (Western Province), George Linde (Western Province), Keshav Maharaj (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Lungi Ngidi (Northerns), Aiden Markram (Northerns), Wiaan Mulder (Central Gauteng Lions), Anrich Nortje (Eastern Province), Keegan Peterson (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Kagiso Rabada (Central Gauteng Lions), Rassie van der Dussen (Central Gauteng Lions), Kyle Verreynne (Western Province), Tabraiz Shamsi (Northerns), Lizaad Williams (Northerns), Prenelan Subrayen (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Marco Jansen (Eastern Province).