Where will De Kock slot in for Proteas?

Quinton de Kock (Gallo Images)
Quinton de Kock (Gallo Images)

Durban - Less than 30 minutes after the Proteas had crashed to a 241-run defeat to England on Wednesday, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced that the Titans duo of Quinton de Kock and Chris Morris had been added to the squad for the second Test in Cape Town, starting on January 2. 

Morris' inclusion follows major injury concerns over Proteas ace Dale Steyn, who has a right shoulder strain and looks highly unlikely to feature at Newlands. 

The seamer conundrum is one that will require some serious thought from the selectors. 

If Steyn can't play, then he will logically be replaced by Kagiso Rabada. 

But in Morris the Proteas have a way of strengthening their lower order batting and that fact, coupled with Kyle Abbott being largely uninspiring in Durban, could see a double change to the bowling ranks. 

But it is the De Kock call-up that really raises eyebrows. 

Convener of selectors Linda Zondi had made it very clear before the series began that De Villiers would keep wicket for the first two Tests. 

And then, amidst reports that surfaced mid-Test that De Villiers was considering his international future, team manager Dr. Mohammad Moosajee reassured media that the 31-year-old's back injury had not been a concern since 2012. 

The Proteas batting line-up is as fragile as it's ever been with Stiaan van Zyl, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy all under particular pressure to perform. 

Van Zyl up front remains a major concern, but including De Kock is unlikely to relieve that problem. 

"There are so many options ... so many things that can be discussed. I need to sit down with the selectors and feel what’s best," Proteas coach Russell Domingo offered after Wednesday's loss.

"Quinton has got a lot of his runs of late in four day cricket batting at six, not as an opener. That is another thing that needs to be debated. Do we now go and put what we perceive as being another not specialist opening batter in that role? Because you can only play 11 players ... it’s a tough situation."

Proteas captain Hashim Amla acknowledged after the match that De Kock would be a major consideration for Newlands.

"I think depending how AB feels ... I think there would be a temptation (to play De Kock) if we feel like it’s too much now for AB. We’ll see what happens," he said.

"AB batting at four is great. Him keeping allows us to play an extra batter which is also great. The workload he was made to have in this Test match was a bit more than expected ... I think 200 overs, we didn’t really want to do that," added Amla.

"And yes, it is a heavy workload for him and hats off to AB for putting his hand up. I feel that if he can do it ... we’ll have to assess now and see how he feels at the end of today (Wednesday)."

If De Kock comes back into the side, and not as an opening batsman, then the selectors will have to drop one of Du Plessis, Duminy or Temba Bavuma - a big call whichever way it goes. 

There is also the small matter of Rilee Rossouw, who is in the squad for the Newlands Test and would offer something fresh for a batting line-up that looks dead on its feet. 

"It’s such a fine line because you can’t throw everybody out and bring in five new players. England would love that. We know we’ve got quality there. The key is for us to get that quality out and get the guys to fire to their full potential," said Domingo.

"When you’ve got players with the calibre of Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis ... with proven records, performances under pressure, big hundreds when it counts ... you know that they’re just one or two innings away from a big score and you’ve got to keep believing in that."

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