SA to bin a batsman in ‘Lanka?

2014-06-09 13:00
Russell Domingo (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – Proteas coach Russell Domingo believes the Test side may have to dispense with their “seven batsmen” formula in order to strike the appropriate team balance on the tour of Sri Lanka next month.

South Africa, currently a fraction behind top-placed Australia on the ICC rankings, play two Tests against the ‘Lankans, the first starting at Galle on July 16.

They will keep their options open as they assess conditions in a country where they have not won a series in the format since 1993, and also work out how best to remodel the side since the respective retirements from Test cricket of long-time key figures Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith.

In an interview with Sport24, Domingo said the strategy in recent times of playing seven batsmen had been “all brought about by having Kallis ... fielding someone in your top six who can bowl gives you the option of that seventh batter and we don’t have that luxury any more”.

At the same time, he also indicated that he favoured the idea of the Proteas retaining the security of four seamers.

“With the nature of our (likely main) spin bowler ... Imran Tahir is likely to leak a few runs, as he’s an attacking option, so a fourth seamer helps you greatly to hold up an end, which Kallis could do for a lengthy period in the national side.

“So it’s difficult to now play seven batsmen under those circumstances; you might have to place Vernon Philander at seven, and then maybe a bowling all-rounder like a Wayne Parnell or perhaps a Kyle Abbott at eight.”

The Proteas could still contemplate an attack featuring just three fast bowlers, plus Tahir and part-timer JP Duminy for the spin duties, if they do decide not to disturb the seven-batsmen mix.

But reading between the lines, Domingo is not especially keen on that scenario.

“Three seamers in Sri Lanka, in that heat, is a tough ask, especially when your spinners ... well, I won’t say he’s not established, but Imran has not yet played a lot of Test cricket and does have a history of going for a few runs, although he’s a match-winner in terms of getting wickets.

“But in those conditions you do need to have someone who can bowl a lot of overs.”

South Africa have introduced a new cap to increase their spin options on the tour, in the form of young Cape Cobras off-spinner Dane Piedt, and Domingo did not write off the possibility of him being fast-tracked to a debut on the venture.

“It’s definitely not out of the window, the thought of playing two frontline spinners -- maybe more of an option at Galle than in Colombo, where historically it is not a massively spinning wicket.

“We’ll assess conditions carefully when we get there.”

It seemed significant that the selectors preferred Piedt to the Warriors’ arguably “safer” Simon Harmer, who had seemed next in line after several promising showings at SA ‘A’ level.

“We’ve got to start unearthing spinners who are able to get wickets,” Domingo explained. “Dane’s big (plus) is that he is able to bowl a doosra which is a massive advantage for an off-spinner in modern cricket. He’s an exciting bowler for us.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  russell domingo  |  cricket

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