Albie poised for Test debut

2009-03-17 16:10

Cape Town - Titans all-rounder Albie Morkel is likely to make his Test debut in the third Castle Lager Test match between South Africa and Australia starting at Newlands on Thursday.

"I obviously have to discuss it with Mike Procter (the convenor of selectors) first, but Albie would add some depth to our batting," said Proteas coach Mickey Arthur on Tuesday.

"But we have to get 20 wickets to win a Test match, and so we have to get the balance of our bowling attack right. Albie does swing it, and it'll be interesting to see how he goes in a Test match. He's been knocking on the door for some time. He's been getting his pace up and he has the ability to swing the ball in to the left-handers."

Arthur said the young Warriors fast bowler, Wayne Parnell, would probably sit out the match.

"Like Lonwabo (Tsotsobe), we want to expose him to the rigours of international cricket. It's a pity Lonwabo's not here, because in all likelihood, we would have played him. He's been with the team, and he's come on amazingly well." Tsotsobe is recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"One of my stated objectives has always been to have as big a pool of reserve players as we possibly can, so that come injury we have a number of players that have sampled the atmosphere of Test cricket from the dressing room, which readies them for their performance," said Arthur." "We've done that with Lonwabo, and now we're doing that with Wayne as well.

"We did it with JP (Duminy) who toured with us for two years before he got his chance, and when he got the chance, he was ready to take it, simply because he had been exposed to it for that amount of time. Imraan Khan (who will open the batting) is in the same boat."

Arthur said he had had a long chat with Ashwell Prince, who makes his return to the Test team as an opening batsman. Prince was injured before the first Test in Australia, and then was controversially left out of the team for the first two Tests in South Africa.

"Ashwell is very excited to be back in the Test team," he said. "It is going to be a different challenge for him at the top of the order. He's up for the challenge, and he's made peace with it."

Prince said at the weekend, after making 254 for the Warriors against the Titans, that while he was happy to bat anywhere so that he could play for South Africa, he would prefer to bat lower down the order.

Arthur said it was not a question of the middle order batsmen refusing to change their positions.

"They weren't consulted," he said. "Three, four, five and six have been very successful and the opening arose at the top of the order. I'm very conscious of wanting to have our six best players at the top of the order.

"Imraan Khan has been playing fantastically well, and he could also come into the mix. If I can get our six best batsmen at one to six with minimal amount of movement, then I'm very happy."

He said the Proteas were all deeply disappointed that they had lost the home series, after beating Australia in their backyard.

"It's a long time since we have experienced the pain of a series defeat, and it's a very good reality check for the team. The players are hurting and I have full confidence in the senior players leading the way as they try to regain some momentum."