As the start of the series between South Africa and England nears, the SACricketmag.com writers pick their XI for the Boxing Day Test in Durban.
Kobus Pretorius: The team should be pretty straight forward going into the first match. All the batsmen except AB de Villiers have a point to prove while the bowling attack should be as strong as ever. It’s Kingsmead, so I would leave out the specialist spinner and go with four seamers in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott. JP Duminy and Dean Elgar can share the spin bowling duties. Stiaan van Zyl should continue to open the batting for the first two Tests; AB de Villiers moves back to No 5 after taking over the wicketkeeping duties and Temba Bavuma slots in at No 7 to strengthen the batting line-up.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla (c), Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Kyle Abbott, Morné Morkel.
Tom Sizeland: With Quinton de Kock left out, it is clear that Temba Bavuma is going to get the nod. I would give him more responsibility and put him up to No 6, and let JP Duminy play the all-rounder role at No 7. Despite De Villiers taking the gloves, it doesn’t change how important a role he could play at No 4, so I would keep the same order that the Proteas employed in the last two Tests against India, which had Du Plessis at No 5. Van Zyl isn’t an opener, but he does deserve an extended run. I would give him two Tests before considering Rilee Rossouw, or even Stephen Cook, who should be there in the first place.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel.
Jon Cardinelli: Rilee Rossouw deserves an opportunity at the top of the order sooner rather than later. If there is an argument to be made for Stiaan van Zyl’s inclusion, it’s in the lower middle order. That said, I’d back both Temba Bavuma and JP Duminy as the Proteas’ No 6 and 7 batsmen for the coming match. While Duminy has something to prove with the bat, he will offer the Proteas an extra bowling option with his off-spinners. The absence of a wicketkeeping alternative in the squad will see AB de Villiers taking on the responsibility. However, South Africa need to retain their best batsman at No 4.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Rilee Rossouw, Hashim Amla (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Morné Morkel.
Mark Salter: Let’s stop messing about. Let’s get a specialist opener into the right position. Stephen Cook has shown he has the grit and backbone to hang in through tough times, which others have not. And be assured, they will be tough times against a formidable England pace attack. Given the constraints under which we pick teams, we will stay with Duminy as the primary spin option, with a little help from Elgar. It will be a holding operation anyway and pure pace is the only thing that will really test England. If I had my way, too, I would take the captaincy away from Amla. I think it is restricting his batting.
My XI: Dean Elgar, Stephen Cook, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers (wk, c), Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott, Morné Morkel.