AB, Ashwell primed to play Oz

2011-11-07 14:20

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - The Proteas’ batting line-up to tackle Australia in the first Test at Newlands here from Wednesday appears to have taken shape.

It seems reasonably clear that AB de Villiers, after seeming more likely a few days ago to only be considered for the second Test at the Wanderers after his hand injury, is going to get every chance to confirm his readiness instead for the first encounter.

Monday’s Proteas press conference all but cleared up that Ashwell Prince will occupy a middle-order position, at the expense of JP Duminy, with De Villiers also coming into the mix if he has no setbacks at nets in the lead-up to the Test.

Prince was the national side’s representative at the briefing, and when asked by Sport24 whether he had been told he would turn out, he replied: “They haven’t announced the final XI yet, but I expect to play.”

Significantly, he also went into some detail about the situation of attacking kingpin De Villiers: “As far as AB is concerned, he had a match yesterday for the Titans but unfortunately for him he got out in (unusual) fashion (ruled as obstructing the field after getting to 12 – Sport24).

“He’d have liked a bit more time at the crease, of course, but I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s just got to make the best of today and tomorrow with his preparation, but he’s a world-class batsman.

“Watching him in the nets today he didn’t seem to have lost anything – the timing is there. That first half hour at the crease (against the Aussies) will be tough, and crucial for him to settle himself down.”

So it seems that the Proteas will go in with a top six made of captain Graeme Smith, Jacques Rudolph, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, De Villiers and Prince in that order.

Prince boasts a first-innings knock of 150 in a winning cause the last time South Africa played the Aussies at the ground in a dead-rubber Test three seasons back – Australia had already gone 2-0 up to secure the series -- in the stop-gap role of opening batsman.

“At the time we had (disruption) in the team ... Graeme got injured and unfortunately Neil McKenzie went through a bad patch and we ended up with two new opening batsmen (Prince and debutant Imraan Khan – Sport24).

“But this (the middle order) is where I’ve batted all my life and much more the role I’m accustomed to. I’m also much more comfortable with it.”

The 34-year-old left-hander admitted that it had been tough to stomach occasionally being a yo-yo man in the Test side, or subjected to unfamiliar responsibilities.

“Sometimes it’s a bit disappointing that you always have to look over your shoulder. But I feel I’ve done enough in the past and my form coming into the Test is good, so I feel confident.

“It’s nice to have had some four-day games under the belt ... a few others like Jacques Rudolph also put some (SuperSport Series) runs on the board so it’s good for the two of us, who haven’t been part of the shorter format for South Africa this season.”

Asked about what he expected of the Newlands pitch, Prince said: “It looks a little bit soft at the moment; hopefully it can continue to get some good sun on it -- the forecast ahead is a bit dodgy, though.

“It’s usually a good wicket at Newlands; starts out a bit softer on day one up to lunch and from tea time or so it becomes very good for batting.”

Prince also spoke glowingly of Vernon Philander, the Cape Cobras’ fast-medium bowler who may make his Test debut on his home ground.

“Over the last three or four years Vernon has been the outstanding seam bowler in domestic cricket; his record speaks for itself with something like 260 wickets at 19 or 20 runs per wicket so that’s a phenomenal record.

“He’s a bowler who is always at you; he doesn’t bowl many balls that you can leave. He comes close to the stumps, and hits the seam. He’s the type who is always in your face and asking questions.

“It’s great for him, if he plays, that his first Test would be at Newlands. Knowledge of conditions, the ground, the run-ups ... all those things that are important to bowlers, he’ll be comfortable with.”

Could Philander do the holding job if necessary?

“That role depends on how we go with selection. If we go with the more ‘attacking’ spinner (Imran Tahir) then that role would probably have to be shared between Vernon and someone like Jacques Kallis.

“But guys like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are also capable of playing a slightly different role if required. They’re experienced and world-class bowlers and they can do more than just run in and try to knock people’s heads off.

“If we need a disciplined spell they can do that.”


  • Wimpie - 2011-11-07 14:56

    vat hulle !!! Ek hoop net dit reen nie.

  • comurray - 2011-11-07 15:16

    I just hope the likes of Smith can get their act together and not just give his wicket away cheaply as he has done in the past. The top order batsmen must not leave high scoring to tail ender batsmen. The bowlers must at all costs not bowl no balls and wides, fielders should not throw at the stumps from a distance unless there is backup to prevents runs being scored from over throws. Just go out and play as a team and not individuals.

      Carl - 2011-11-07 16:28

      State the obvious....

  • Nick - 2011-11-07 15:41

    Oh - so JP Duminy has to make way - in order to accommodate that useless MYTH Mark Boucher...??!! AB de Villiers should take the gloves and come in at 7 (ala Adam Gilchrist - a top-order quality batsman coming in at 7 - as the team's wicket-keeper batsman) - giving us a middle order of: Kallis at 4; Ashwell Prince at 5; JP Duminy at 6; and AB at 7... But - no - the potency of our middle order and batting line-up as a whole must be compromised in order to accommodate Smith and Kallis' mate - that useless myth - Mark Boucher! For too long SA cricket has been the 'private club' for Smith, Kallis, Boucher and their mates. If JP is not selected - and Boucher plays - I hope the Aussies THRASH the tossers!! Go Aussie!!

      yazeed.khan1 - 2011-11-07 16:06

      Spot On. AB keeping will benefit the make-up of the team more. This will allow JP to play , he can als provide the option of second spinner together with Tahir. People mentions Mark Boucher experince but in all honesty in the last two years his form has been bad

      Dhirshan - 2011-11-07 16:19

      prince is like 50 now, i thought gary will give young blood a go like jp.

      Nick - 2011-11-07 16:22

      Well said Yazeed! JP adds another option as a 2nd spinner - he is a very, very useful spinner - and has been under-utilised by Smith in Test matches (any surprise there?)... We then won't need the no-wicket-taking Harris in the team anymore - as Imran Tahir is far and away the best attacking, wicket-taking, spinner we've had in SA cricket since Hugh Tayfield. JP and Imran could then be our twin-spin attack... As for Boucher - the last time that useless tosser scored a Test century against noteworthy opposition - was in 2004 vs the West Indies. His pathetic average (for a wicket-keeper batsman) of just over 30 - is not good enough for a team aspiring to be no. 1 in the world - and a long, long way behind Matt Prior, Brad Haddin, MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara - all of whom have Test averages in the mid-40's... But he's Smith and Kallis' mate - so the tosser keeps getting selected...

      Grant - 2011-11-07 17:21

      Come on guys - gotta keep more up-to-date if you are going to comment like this. AB is not taking the gloves as a precaution over his recently broken hand - so is playing in a batting capacity only. Mark Boucher was the next most obvious choice for test wicket-keeper...

      Nick - 2011-11-07 17:36

      @Grant: Dane Vilas...Heino Kuhn...Thami Tsolekile - are all much better choices... And - even if he did not break his hand - would the selectors have selected AB as the keeper-batsman...??? I doubt it - they still had Boucher in the team for our last series vs India... I'm sick and tired of the Smith/Kallis/Boucher buddies clique in the Proteas team. If you knew just a few of the stories behind the story - you'd know how those 3 tossers have made the team their own private club - aided and abetted by puppet coaches like Mickey Arthur... Simple: I hope the team keeps losing while Boucher plays. And the sooner Smith goes too - the better! Arrogant tosser!

      Andrew - 2011-11-07 17:50

      please get serious! while i agree that boucher is tired and over the hill, AB has just recovered from a hand injury.. not sure keeping is the best way to speed up the recovery!

  • granville.paulse - 2011-11-07 16:24

    It would be nice if Vernon gets rewarded for his good showing over the last 3 seasons. 60-odd games, 260-odd wickets at 19.8. Not bad at all. I do think that Lopsy might get a go ahead of him though. Lets hope they don't go with an attacking spinner AND a slow bowler. That would be spitting in the face of Vernon and Lopsy.

  • Carl - 2011-11-07 16:32

    Boucher is still the best glove man in SA as for AB at keeper - not a wise option as he has just come back from an op on his hand!!!

      Nick - 2011-11-07 17:15

      Boucher as a keeper only - is 'average'; as a batsman (remember it's a dual role as a 'keeper-batsman) - he's useless! A Test average for someone coming in at 7 of only 30 - is USELESS! There's Heino Kuhn...and Dane Vilas...and Thami Tsolekile...and, and, and - so many much better options as a keeper AND a batsman... Even when Dave Richardson retired - Nicky Pothas was MUCH better as a keeper/batsman than the useless Boucher - yet somehow - Boucher got selected - and kept his place in the team - despite failure after failure...

      Igenatius - 2011-11-08 10:07

      Nick, I cannot agree with you there. Boucher has broken record after record as a keeper. I do agree with you that his form over the last two years is very poor though. And I must agree that I would certainly not put him in the team. BUT, give credit where credit is due. He used to be a SUBLIME cricketor! He has the record for most test dismissals as a keeper. I also cannot even remember how many times he came in at the end of the innings to save our ass#s. Just like Smith though, these two do not deserve a spot in the CURRENT squad. Period.

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