Proteas batsmen who need runs

Stiaan van Zyl (Gallo Images)
Stiaan van Zyl (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - After a dismal series with the bat against India, there are a number of Proteas willow-wielders who are desperate for runs against England this summer. 

Nobody other than AB de Villiers - and even that is a push by his standards - excelled in what was a disastrous Test series against India.

Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and JP Duminy did not deliver in conditions that screamed for leaders to stand up and be counted, and they return to home conditions for four Tests against England knowing that they must prove their worth.

But there is surely nobody hungrier for runs than Stiaan van Zyl, who has been backed as an opening batsman once more for the first two England Tests.

Van Zyl was dropped for the fourth Test against India after his Ravichandran Ashwin-induced hypnosis saw him stutter to 56 runs in five knocks. Ashwin had dismissed him in all of those innings. 

And now, the classy left-hander's immediate Test future could hinge on what transpires in Durban and Cape Town.

"We asked Van Zyl to open the batting for us in the sub-continent conditions. It is only fair that we back a player and give him a run in South Africa and then we’ll assess it from there," convener of selectors Linda Zondi told Sport24.

"We still have the options of Cookie (Stephen Cook) and Reeza (Hendricks). We all know that Stiaan has done well in his position in the middle order so when we asked him to open, it is only fair to have a real look." 

The fact that Zondi mentioned Stephen Cook and Reeza Hnedricks (both in the SA A squad that will take on England in a warm-up before the Test series starts) should be a loud enough warning to Van Zyl that he needs to get some runs, and quickly. 

But it was the failures of the experienced campaigners in India that would have been most concerning.

"In as much as we know that these guys haven’t played as we hoped they would in India, we can’t just disregard experience like that," said Zondi.

"We are all hoping that these two guys (Duminy and Du Plessis), with the quality cricketers that they are … I’m sure they’re an innings away from performing.

"The more they perform, the more the whole team performs. When the experienced guys don’t perform it puts pressure on everybody else."

The only addition to the Proteas batting line-up comes in the form of the uncapped Rilee Rossouw.

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