Who should replace Steyn at Centurion?

Lungi Ngidi (Gallo)
Lungi Ngidi (Gallo)

Pretoria - While the big selection issue ahead of the first Test between the Proteas and India centred around whether or not Dale Steyn would play, the build-up to the second Test has been characterised by discussions on who will replace him. 

Steyn suffered tissue damage to his left heel in Cape Town and has been ruled out of the remainder of the series. 

Now, the Proteas brains trust must settle on a replacement for the second Test at Centurion, which gets underway on Saturday. 

Captain Faf du Plessis has three options: Duanne OlivierLungi Ngidi and Chris Morris

All three have their attractions, but come 09:30 on Saturday, Du Plessis will announce one. 

The Proteas will go into the match with four fast bowlers and with Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel all guaranteed a start, the fourth seamer is the one with the question mark hovering over it. 

Given the struggles that both sides faced in the batting department in Cape Town, Morris emerges as an intelligent pick in that regard. 

He could significantly bulk up the batting ranks, while Du Plessis would be happy with him operating as one of four quicks. 

"At this stage we view Morry as a fourth seamer. He has a bit of work to do on his consistency before we can think of him as a third seamer," Du Plessis said on Friday.

"But as a fourth seamer he operates well. He runs in hard and has good pace, and he can bat which makes him a good option in that allrounder role."

Choosing between Olivier and Ngidi, though, is potentially even more difficult. 

Olivier has already played in five Test matches and technically should be next in the pecking order, but the fit-again Ngidi is considered one of the brightest young fast bowling prospects in the country. 

Until Thursday, Du Plessis had never seen Ngidi bowl in the flesh and after doing so the skipper was impressed. 

"Lungi has been brought into the squad and I wanted to get a closer look at what he can do," Du Plessiss said.

"It was great to get to know him and see what he’s got. There is a lot of talent there."

With Steyn (34), Morkel (33) and Philander (32) all getting on in their careers, it is important to Du Plessis that the Proteas build on their fast bowling stocks. 

"Right now is really important, but I’ve also got an eye on the future in terms of there being a lot of Test cricket coming up," said Du Plessis.

"As I’ve said very often, the success of our Test team is highly dependable on the fast bowlers that we have in our armoury.

"Now we have to look at if we want to keep the balance of four seamers and a spinner, do we look at an all-rounder maybe? It is once again a tough selection, but a nice one again."


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