Ross Taylor has been ruled out of the second Test in Wellington after picking up a calf strain during New Zealand’s first innings in Dunedin.
Faf du Plessis fancied South Africa’s chances in the first Test and believed that with Trent Boult and Taylor out injured, SA’s biggest job would have been to get themselves a 250-plus lead.
‘If today was a full day of cricket, with New Zealand one seamer down and one batter out of the team, we fancied our chances,’ said Du Plessis, reflecting on the drawn first Test. ‘So it’s very disappointing from that point of view.’
Taylor, who had a good ODI series against the Proteas scoring 106 not out in the first ODI and 66 in the third, will be monitored and assessed with a possible return in Hamilton. The 33-year-old has scored 16 tons and is joint-second with Kane Williamson for the most centuries scored for New Zealand.
Du Plessis feels that Taylor’s absence should give the Proteas a head start going into the second Test in Wellington, with Williamson posing their only major threat.
‘They are losing a big player in Ross Taylor and they will have someone new, which will create an opportunity for us to put some pressure on them,’ Du Plessis said.
‘We saw in this Test that even though Kane Williamson got a hundred, if we can get through him, we can put some pressure on their batters.’
Neil Broom, who has yet to play a Test for the Kiwis, is the favourite to take Taylor’s place. Broom made his ODI debut in 2009 but had been dropped in 2010 due to poor performances, which saw him hit only one half-century in 22 matches.
He made his return in New Zealand’s series against Bangladesh in December 2016 and scored his maiden international century in his second match back, followed by a 97 in his third and 73 against Australia in Auckland. His performances in the Proteas’ 3-2 series victory read a contrasting story, with the 33-year-old scoring 2,2 and 0 before being dropped for the final two ODIs.
Williamson and Mike Hesson believe that his domestic experience makes him the obvious candidate for a call-up.
‘Neil has been around the one-day group for a period of time and been very successful,’ Williamson said. ‘He has played a lot of domestic cricket and been around for a long period of time.’
New Zealand coach Hesson backed up his captain.
‘We’ve got an inexperienced batting line up so we were keen to have somebody with plenty of playing experience, someone who can play pace well and Neil has seen a little bit of South Africa before. We are going to miss Ross and that calming influence in the middle order, but it does provide an opportunity for Neil to step up and show us that he is ready for Test cricket.’
Du Plessis did not flinch when he heard about Broom’s potential call up.
‘I haven’t played against him with the red ball. Seen a bit on him in the one-dayers. We were quite successful in getting rid of him so hopefully that will continue. It’s the experience they are going to miss with Ross. They can’t replace that straight away.’
The second Test will start at 12 am SAST in Wellington on 16 March.
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