Rory looks good for Test

2012-12-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — It seems increasingly clear that the Proteas will hardly be weakened if Rory Kleinveldt finally gets to represent his country at home venue Newlands against New Zealand in the first Test from next Wednesday.

The born-and-bred Capetonian will earn his cap if fellow Cobras seamer Vernon Philander fails to recover from injury in time for the New Year encounter.

Philander aggravated an old left hamstring problem after bowling just five overs in a pre-Christmas Sunfoil Series match for his log-leading franchise against the Titans at the ground.

Considering that a recovery period of up to two weeks has been recommended, he is racing against time to make the cut for the January 2 start to the fixture against the Black Caps.

No. 1-ranked South Africa were due to start their preparation with a Newlands training session yesterday afternoon.

Of course, losing the services of one of the world’s best Test bowling finds of the last year would be a blow to Graeme Smith’s outfit, but if Kleinveldt is drafted into the mix instead, the national side will be fielding a player in an encouragingly resurgent mode.

Plenty of people, after all, were ready — and not without some justification — to brand the burly 29-year-old a “one-Test non-wonder” after a traumatic debut against Australia at Brisbane a few weeks ago.

There Kleinveldt returned unflattering figures of nought for 97 in the Baggy Greens’ mammoth lone innings and was more guilty than anyone of a no-ball virus that infected pretty much the entire front-line attack.

But he then got a selection reprieve in Adelaide, because of Philander’s absence for the second Test, and bowled vastly nearer his known potential, earning figures of three for 65 in the Aussies’ second knock.

Indeed, so improved was Kleinveldt that there was a strong case for fielding him in the series decider at Perth’s legendary, pacy Waca ground, although the tourists chose to bolster their batting arsenal instead.

He has subsequently, at various South African venues, only provided further reassurance of his mental strength by making his Gabba misfortune slip further back in critics’ memories.

Kleinveldt has been largely disciplined and incisive for both the Cobras (in the rain-marred, indecisive One-day Cup final against the Lions at the Wanderers) and then the Proteas in the three-match Twenty20 series against the New Zealanders.

He bowled with commendable gusto in the victories at Kingsmead and St George’s Park, and also showed the right kind of body language at the death in East London, when he only missed his length by a fraction and century-maker Martin Guptill just managed to get the final ball over the infield for the decisive boundary to steal that fixture for the tourists.

There was certainly no evidence of any meltdown by Kleinveldt on that occasion; sometimes you simply have to be philosophical in T20 cricket when a particular batsman is smacking it really sweetly and tilting the balance.

Kleinveldt is thus likely to be champing at the bit for the possibility of a maiden appearance for South Africa at Newlands.

He has played seven matches for the Proteas (two Tests, five T20s), but none of them at his picturesque home ground, where the surface is expected to offer some spongy bounce and his ability to bang it in hard could be influential if his services are employed. — Sport24.

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