Phehlukwayo's star rises with Test call-up

Andile Phehlukwayo (Gallo Images)
Andile Phehlukwayo (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Proteas squad announcement for four Tests against England next month was the inclusion of 21-year-old Andile Phehlukwayo

The Dolphins allrounder replaces the out-of-sorts Wayne Parnell, who goes back to square one in his attempt to become a regular in the national set-up. 

While Phehlukwayo has had some success on the international stage in limited overs cricket, he remains very much a work in progress. 

He has displayed good skills with the ball - his variation and death bowling are particular strengths - while he has also demonstrated an enterprising, clean-hitting ability with the bat. 

Is he ready for Test cricket? Probably not. But Phehlukwayo's inclusion for a series that is about as big as it gets will surely benefit him in the long run. 

The decision to call him up is a brave one, but while he may not be a world beater yet, Phehlukwayo has shown enough in his 17 ODIs and 7 T20Is to suggest that he will play a lot of international cricket for the Proteas. 

"It is vital for us to make sure that we keep developing allrounders," CSA convenor of selectors Linda Zondi told Sport24.

"He's got the potential. He's a guy for us that, at his age, can learn from the set-up. It will definitely help the Proteas as we move forward. That's also why we've included (Aiden) Markram as a back-up to Faf (du Plessis)."

The call-up shows just how much faith the Proteas have in this young man. He, along with the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Markram and Quinton de Kock, is a part of the generation that will need to deliver post-2019. 

After that year's World Cup, South African cricket is likely to be without players like Du Plessis, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, JP Duminy and Hashim Amla. 

Zondi says that the long-term succession plan has already started. 

"We're sending a message to that we're always looking to the future in terms of incorporating these young players," he said.

"We want him (Phehluykwayo) to get used to that red ball from a Test point of view.

"He is a player that we need to invest in and I still believe that he is going to show more with the bat. There is still more to come.

"If he can learn from some of these senior guys that are here that will definitely benefit him. We're happy with his contribution in the other formats and now we're allowing him to learn.

"If he doesn't play, he's going to learn. And if he does play, then we're fully behind him and we feel he has the right skill to showcase with the red ball."

Follow Sport24 journalist @LloydBurnard on Twitter...

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