Proteas will pick 'best team available'

JP Duminy (Gallo Images)
JP Duminy (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Everybody in the 15-man squad is ready for Test cricket, and the Proteas management will select the best possible starting XI - regardless of colour - for the second Test against England starting on Friday at Trent Bridge. 

That is the strong message from Convenor of Selectors Linda Zondi, who said it was "difficult to watch" the Proteas demolished by 211 runs in the first Test at Lord's. 

Current transformation targets dictate that the Proteas must field at least 54% players of colour in their starting XI over the course of a season, across all formats. 

It means that a decision on whether or not the Proteas have met their targets will only be taken at the end of the 2017/18 season once numbers are crunched on every game they played this season. 

With Kagiso Rabada suspended for the second Test and JP Duminy seriously out of form, the Proteas could very well bring in two white players - Faf du Plessis and Duanne Olivier - for two players of colour. 

Vernon Philander was also struggling with a hand injury after the second Test, and if he had not been declared fit then his place could have gone to all-rounder Chris Morris.

The Proteas have met transformation targets naturally over the past year, and Zondi said that now was not the time to start picking players based on colour. 

"We have always picked the players that we feel are good enough to represent us, regardless of colour," Zondi told Sport24 on Tuesday.

"The transformation agenda will only be assessed from an annual point of view. It's not match-by-match. We've got leeway, so we're not going to be restricted.

"We will pick the best team that will have to represent our country."

Zondi said that the selectors were not under pressure because they were still at the beginning of the season.

"We've still got the whole year to make sure we meet whatever the criteria are," he said.

"We're not going to pick a player because we are trying to fit into numbers. At the moment, we are not under any pressure.

"Every player that is there in the 15 is good enough to be there, so we will pick the team that we think will best represent us."

Zondi added that the Proteas selectors would be prepared to drop Duminy.

"We have never been shy to drop any big names. Even Faf himself was left out," he said, referring to when Du Plessis was left out of the Cape Town Test against England in 2016.

"Any player, in terms of form, if we have decided that it's time for him to be let go he will be let go. We do have back-up players in that squad of 15."

Follow Sport24 journalist @LloydBurnard on Twitter...

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