Domingo backs opener Alviro

2014-12-13 22:44
Alviro Petersen (AP)

Johannesburg - Despite Proteas opener Alviro Petersen going 23 innings without a century, coach Russell Domingo is not worried about his flagging form ahead of the first Test against the West Indies starting in Centurion on Wednesday.

Petersen last managed three figures with a knock of 106 against New Zealand in Cape Town in the New Year's Test in 2013, but since then has not scored higher than 62 in the leanest run of his career in the longest format of the game.

"I honestly believe there is a big score around the corner for him, technically he's playing well," said Domingo at the Wanderers on Saturday.

Petersen's previous worst run in the format came when he was new in the set-up after scoring a century on debut against India in Kolkata in February 2010. In that bare patch, Petersen went 15 innings without a century. A closer inspection of his Test career reveals, Petersen with an average of 35.83 has only five tons to his name but eight fifties indicating a poor conversion rate.

Domingo insisted the player was at his best when under scrutiny.

"He seems to thrive when people are trying to write him off, I don't think he needs too much motivation. There are a lot of questions around his selection, but all players go through slumps.

"He'll be the first to admit he's got a lot of starts but has (in the past) found a way to get himself out."

With JP Duminy's recovery from a knee injury taking longer than expected and ruling him out of the first Test, Domingo said he would probably miss the second Test in Port Elizabeth starting on Boxing Day as well.

"It's highly unlikely (he'll play in PE).

"The medical committee will hand a report back on that. His treatment is going fine at the moment, but he'll probably take a bit longer than anticipated."

The Proteas would be cautious with the return of Duminy bearing in mind the key role the player would fill in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February.

"Guys want to play Test cricket if they're available.

"Also we have to realise the World Cup is just over two months away and JP is a big player for us in that format, as well as every format. We need to assess where he is in the next week or two and then make a decision."

South Africa sit atop the Test rankings, while the tourists are way down in eighth - ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - but Domingo was not overly confident heading into to what should be a one-sided contest.

"The last tour they actually won the first Test (in Port Elizabeth in 2007), so I'm actually a little bit nervous because we haven't played a lot of cricket in the last few months.

"We're still trying to find the right combinations and personnel after Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith retired.

"We're also a little bit nervous about the West Indies because we don't know that much about them."

With three uncapped players in the squad - Temba Bavuma, Kagiso Rabada and Stiaan van Zyl - Domingo said he would not tinker much with his line-up.

"You don't want to be just giving Test caps away, because it's the pinnacle of the game.

"So you don't want to be making wholesale changes to your side. You want to get some new faces, but the changes have to be subtle like one or two guys here and there."

Van Zyl was the domestic four-day competition's leading run-scorer last season with 933 runs at an average of 58.31. The season before he was second on the run-scoring charts with 673 runs at an average of 57.80.

Domingo hinted that 27-year-old Van Zyl would probably come in for Duminy in the first Test at least.

"Stiaan's done very well for the Cobras and thoroughly deserves his spot in this squad.

"Hopefully there is a Test cap for him around the corner. He'll definitely be one of the front-runners to play in the next couple of weeks" said Domingo.

"He has a good technique and he knows how to get big runs like 150s, not just hundreds. Players who produce those kind of performances, you can't teach that. He just knows how to do it."


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