Olivier to play Newlands Test as Faf ponders selection

2019-01-02 12:44
Duanne Olivier
Duanne Olivier (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis has confirmed that Duanne Olivier will play in the second Test against Pakistan starting at Newlands on Thursday.

It is a selection that seems obvious on the surface given that Olivier claimed match-winning figures of 11/96 in the Boxing Day Test at Centurion, but the return of Vernon Philander for Cape Town complicated matters. 

With Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada the other fast bowlers, accommodating the returning Philander meant that Olivier was in the firing line to get the chop if the Proteas kept the same balance of three quicks and a spinner in Keshav Maharaj. 

But, speaking to media at Newlands on Wednesday, Du Plessis confirmed that Olivier would play. 

"Just that enforcer role that I think is important and he brings a variety to our attack," Du Plessis said.

"We've got a lot of skill in our bowling attack and Duane is more an enforcer and a guy that puts you on the back foot.

"It can sometimes be a bit challenging for batters especially when they come from the subcontinent where the ball doesn't bounce as high.

"He is  afit guy that can bowl long spells and I like to have that in the armory. He runs at you and is around your head most of the time. It's not comfortable for anyone."

So, with Olivier in, Du Plessis must find find somebody else to sacrifice for Philander. 

One option is to go in a batsmen light, which would see Quinton de Kock elevated to No 6 in the order and Theunis de Bruyn left out. 

Given how frail the South African top order has looked recently, though, that might be a dangerous ploy. 

The alternative is to go in without a spinner, which would see all four seamers play and Maharaj sidelined. 

While that could have worked on a Centurion wicket where the seamers were dangerous throughout, this Newlands strip looks a more conventional Test wicket and the contest is expected to beyond three days this time around. 

Du Plessis also said that going in with the same formation of three quicks and spinner was also an option, but with Olivier a confirmed starter and Philander back, that would see one of Steyn or Rabada rested. 

"We're still talking about what we need to do," Du Plessis said.

"Historically Newlands is a ground that spins a bit so it's just about finding that balance and it's always a tricky circumstance.

"There are a few combinations."

Du Plessis was expecting to meet with the selectors after lunch on Wednesday to make a final call.  

Play on Thursday starts at 10:30.

Read more on:    proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  duanne olivier  |  cricket


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