Town - When Pieter
Malan takes to the field at Newlands on Friday, it means
that the Proteas will have given Test debuts to three players over the age of
30 in this series.
The Cape Cobras opener (30) will
replace the injured Aiden Markram for the second Test against England having
taken a road to international cricket that has seen him notch up 148
It is a huge opportunity for a
man who could be forgiven for having thought that his shot at a Proteas cap had
At Centurion for the first Test,
which the Proteas won by 107 runs, there were also debuts for allrounder Dwaine
Pretorius and middle-order batsman Rassie van der Dussen, both 30.
thanks to a career-threatening injury early on in his playing career, was a
late bloomer in domestic cricket and only has 56 first-class caps to his name
while Van der Dussen has 114.
Both debutants at SuperSport Park
gave good accounts of themselves, with Van der Dussen scoring a crucial 51 in
South Africa's second innings while Pretorius' control with the ball (1/23 in 8
and 1/26 in 16) was backed up by an important 33 with the bat in the Proteas'
Both of those players do have
international experience having represented their country at T20 and ODI level
- they were part of the 2019 World Cup squad - but in Malan South Africa are
set to back a player who has had to be particularly patient.
Players knocking the door down
through consistent performances at domestic level is something that Du Plessis
is pleased to see.
"It's a big positive for us
that the guys who are coming through now are experienced cricketers," he
"Even Pieter making his
debut is a guy that knows his game. Whether it is domestic experience or
international experience, it is about making sure that you know your game.
"I was one of them as well
... the guys who took the dirty road and the long trek to get to the spot they
wanted to be at."
When asked if the arrival of
players like Van der Dussen and Malan was a sign that the South African
domestic structures were serving their purpose, Du Plessis agreed.
"I think so. I think in
terms of weight of runs, if you look at the last season or two, we're in a good
place when it comes to a batting resources point of view," he said.
"Probably two years ago we
were looking around at where the next batters were going to come from.
"Now, if you look at the
system there is all of a sudden a lot of guys scoring a lot of runs, even if
you look at someone like Keegan Petersen coming into the squad now.
"For me it's a really
healthy place if you can get guys coming through the system when they
absolutely know their game in and out. That's when you can trust the system.
"Sometimes when you're
picking guys at 23 and 24, they are still learning about themselves.
"I prefer when you can knock
on the door for a few seasons ... runs, runs, runs ... and the opportunity comes
and you're so hungry and you've worked at it for so long that you don't want to
let that position go.
"There will always be
nerves, but when you speak to a player a little bit older there is an element
of trusting his game. Now it's just about backing him and creating an
environment where he feels like he belongs and is comfortable in the
On Malan, Du Plessis said the story
was scripted perfectly.
"He seems really calm and
collected and, after speaking to Jacques Kallis, really confident in where his
game is," said the skipper.
"It's the perfect story for
him ... working hard all your life and then making your debut."
Play on Friday will start at