Time to Test the next generation of talent

2014-08-08 00:00

AFTER an intense two-Test series against Sri Lanka, the start of tomorrow’s one-off Test against Zimbabwe in Harare is an anti-climax.

While the standard joke doing the rounds is to predict how many days the five-day showdown will last, it allows the Protea camp to think out the box.

It allows coach Russell Domingo the opportunity to get an early look at some of the pretenders in the side, players who are in the squad but can never crack the starting line up.

Although the Proteas Test squad is unchanged from Sri Lanka, surely the likes of Kyle Abbott, Wayne Parnell, Dane Piedt and Stiaan van Zyl will get a run.

Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Vernon Philander sweated gallons on the sub-continent and have no reason to prove their worth against our lowly neighbours. They have been rested for the three ODIs after the Test, returning for the triangular series when the Aussies arrive.

Abbott and Parnell will relish adding another match to their fledgling Test appearances, not to mention the opportunity to enjoy game time, get the blood flowing and make use of the moment.

With astute cricket brains such as captain Hashim Amla and vice-captain AB de Villiers on the field, surely there is no need for Steyn or Morkel to spearhead the bowling attack. Although he has only two Tests to his name, Abbott should not be overawed by the occasion and would comfortably share the new ball with Parnell.

On the spinning front, it gets a little tricky. Imran Tahir battled in Sri Lanka and needs more game time to bowl his best and this match provides such a stage.

It also allows the possibility of Piedt making his debut and with a rich plethora of sumptious batsmen to keep the scoreboard ticking, perhaps two spinners could be an option.

Van Zyl, who proved his capabilities in the domestic four-day competition last year, has the temperament for the longer version of the game. The question is where he would slot into the batting order. Dean Elgar, despite his hundred in Sri Lanka, still needs to build his confidence and believe he can play at Test level. Amla and De Villiers are there for leadership, experience and wielding the willow. Duminy provides stability late in the order, which leave Faf du Plessis. Unlike his ODI and T20 career, du Plessis has shown he is cut out for the purest form of the game. He has the temperament and patience for the occasion and made solid contributions in Sri Lanka.

Perhaps he could enjoy putting his feet up for five days and let Van Zyl go in behind De Villiers, filling the number five berth. This is the ideal time to let the next generation of talent get a taste of Test cricket.

It may only be against Zim-babwe, but it stirs the juices of pride, passion to pla for your country.

TEAM: Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, vice-captain), Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, Morné Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.

LAST TIME AROUND

Newlands

Zimbabwe 54 (Matsikenyeri 12; Kallis 4-13, Pollock 3-9, Ntini 3-23) & 265 (Ebrahim 72, Blignaut 61, Masakadza 46; Boje 4-106, Langeveldt 2-27, Ntini 2-68)

South Africa 340-3 (Smith 121, De Villiers 98, Kallis 54, Rudolph 49*; Cremer 3-86)

SA win by an innings and 21 runs.

Centurion

Zimbabwe 269 (Streak 85, Blignaut 52, Ebrahim 37; Kallis 4-33, Zondeki 3-66, Nel 2-17) & 149 (Masakadza 47, Chigumbura 44; Zondeki 6-39, Kallis 2-20)

South Africa 480-7 (Prince 139*, Boje 82, Kallis 58, De Villiers 47, Gibbs 47, Smith 41; Cremer 3-106, Streak 2-78)

SA won by an innings and 62 runs.

SA win series 2-0.

LAST TIME IN ZIMBABWE (2001/02)

1st Test, Harare

South Africa 600-3 (Kirsten 220, Kallis 157*, Gibbs 147, McKenzie 52; Friend 2-147) & 79-1 (Kallis 42*, Kirsten 31*)

Zimbabwe 286 (Andy Flower 142, Ebrahim 71, Friend 30; Nel 4-53, Kallis 2-39, Henderson 2-55) & 391 (Andy Flower 199*, Masakadza 85; Pollock 3-67, Klusener 2-50, Henderson 2-122)

SA won by 9 wkts.

2nd Test, Bulawayo

Zimbabwe 419-9 (Campbell 77, Ebrahim 71, Andy Flower 67, Carlisle 49, Grant Flower 44, Paul Strang 38*; Henderson 4-133, Pollock 2-40) & 96-3 (Masakadza 42*; Henderson 3-33)

South Africa 519-8 (Kallis 189*, McKenzie 88, Gibbs 74, Kirsten 65, Pollock 41; Price 5-181, Friend 3-87)

Match Drawn.

SA win series 1-0.

INTERESTING FACTS

• AB de Villiers is the only current Protea who played in the two 2005 Tests.

• Current captain Hashim Amla had yet to make his entrance into Test cricket

• At Newlands, Ebrahim became Ntini’s 200th Test wicket and Brendan Taylor was Mark Boucher’s 300th Test dismissal.

• Taylor is Zimbabwe’s highest ranked batsmen on the ICC Test rankings at 29th.

• Their best bowlers are Kyle Jarvis 44th and Tendai Chatara 51.

PREVIOUS TESTS

•Zimbabwe last played the Proteas in March 2005.

• Two Tests were played, at Newlands and Centurion.

• South Africa won in two days at Newlands, by an innings and 21 runs.

• At Centurion, it took three days to wrap up an innings and 62-run win.

• Zimbabwe voluntarily suspended their Test status soon after this series, returning in 2011.

• In that time, the Proteas played 55 Tests.

• Since re-admission, Zimbabwe have played only 10 Tests to the Proteas 28 over the same period.

• Zimbabwe have won a single Test, against Bangladesh in 2011. The Proteas have lost only one series and reached the number one ranking in Test cricket.

• Zimbabwe’s best result of late was drawing 1-1 with Pakistan in Zimbabwe last year. Chasing 264 to win, Pakistan were bowled out for 239, Tendai Chatara taking five wickets.

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