Pakistan v SA

Proteas to rejig again?

2010-11-11 13:31
Alviro Petersen (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Alviro Petersen may only be four Test matches into his career as an opening batsman for South Africa, but he will be fully aware that his position already becomes extremely tenuous if he fails in the two-Test series against Pakistan.

The first encounter starts in Dubai on Friday (08:00 South African time) and the Lions player will be the batsman in the otherwise highly settled Proteas top six under the closest scrutiny.

There must be a pretty good chance he will get both Tests to try to cement his position, especially as there are no other specialists in his specific trade in the tour party.

But if he doesn’t grab this opportunity in the United Arab Emirates, things get intriguing again, especially as JP Duminy is the “spare” batsman in the squad and very much back in sparkling form from a one-day perspective.

Of course the Cobras left-hander is a middle-order player, but he may just play himself into a position over the course of the summer where his five-day credentials become irresistible once more and some delicate decisions have to be made.

Although the experiment with Ashwell Prince as an opener has now been shelved, is there possibly still a way in which you can accommodate all of Graeme Smith, Prince, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers and Duminy as the top six?

Just one enterprising option might be to ask heavy-scoring Amla, who looks more and more technically accomplished at the crease, to try to replicate his great success as Smith’s opening partner in ODIs at Test level too.

Then again, the wonderful solidity Amla and Kallis offer the Proteas at the key slots of Nos 3 and 4 in Tests is something not to be dismantled without a great deal of soul-searching.

Still, Duminy will probably stay on the outside for the time being if Petersen shines in his UAE challenge.

The right-hander, who turns 30 in around a fortnight, got his Test career off with a bang, scoring a debut century against India at Kolkata, but then he did not cash in very well on benign West Indian tracks, with scores in three Tests there of 31, 22, 52, 39, 1 and 6.

Petersen has not yet excelled in SuperSport Series action this season, either, registering a modest 165 runs in four appearances for the Lions at 27.50.

And apart from the Duminy factor within the Proteas’ very ranks, he is also under pressure from other openers on the domestic scene like Dean Elgar and the re-qualified Jacques Rudolph.

So the next couple of weeks will give a very good indication of whether Petersen is worthy of taking on top-ranked India in South Africa not long afterwards …

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