Proteas mull '50/50' call on four seamers

2017-01-11 16:16
Wayne Parnell (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Faf du Plessis is a captain that likes having the control that comes with fielding a specialist spin bowler.

He has said as much, but the possibility of going into Thursday's third Test against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers with four seamers is a very real one.

It was a decision the Proteas took this time last year when they lost to England at the 'Bull Ring' with Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Hardus Viljoen and Chris Morris making up the four-pronged seam attack. 

The English also went into that match with four seamers, and it was Stuart Broad's masterclass of 6/17 under cloudy skies in the second innings that catapulted the visitors to a comfortable win as the Proteas were dismissed for 83.

There is rain forecast throughout this week's Test too, but by Wednesday afternoon Du Plessis was still undecided, saying it was a "50/50" call at this stage.

"It’s a possibility. We’re still thinking about it. We’ll see what the weather looks like. There is a bit of rain forecast for the Test match, apparently, so we’ll have a look tomorrow and see what it looks like. The deck looks pretty good at the moment," said Du Plessis. 

Whatever decision is taken, Du Plessis confirmed that Wayne Parnell will play in Johannesburg. 

Now 27, Parnell has played just four Test matches for South Africa since making his debut back in 2010 and he has a lot of catching up to do if he is to deliver on the promise he showed as a youngster. 

He has had battles with injury and form over the years, but has gone back to the drawing board to put in some consistently impressive displays on the domestic circuit and he will have another crack at this level on Thursday. 

"He offers something different as a left-arm seamer. In a perfect world, that’s the variety that you look for," Du Plessis said of Parnell.

"From a combination and variety point of view, he ticks that box. His challenge now will be to see how consistent he can be in Test cricket.

"I’m excited to see how much his game has improved. He’s a good batter as well."

It means that it becomes a straight shoot-out between left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who has done little wrong, and uncapped 24-year-old Duanne Olivier for the final bowling slot. 

Olivier has taken 28 wickets in just 5 matches for the Knights in the Sunfoil Series this season to be the tournament's leading wicket-taker. 

Du Plessis admitted that he had not seen the former SA U-19 product bowl before, but added that he had given a good account of himself in the nets this week.

"To be honest, it’s the first time I’ve seen him bowl," said Du Plessis.

"So it’s refreshing when you’ve got almost a blank sheet of thought when a guy comes in.

"Today was the first time I’ve faced him and there’s just something there. I really like what I see. I also like a guy coming into the nets and picking up an old ball and starting to bowl with it.

"You always get guys wanting a new ball because it’s easier and they want to impress. But he took an old ball straight away and started getting stuck into his areas.

"He’s 24 and there’s a future there and I’m excited about his talent."

The attractive option for spectators, simply because it is a novelty, would be to pick Olivier. 

Viljoen, though, picked up match figures of 1/94 in just 19 overs on Test debut this time last year. There is no reason to believe that Olivier would suffer a similar fate, but the Proteas could have done with an economical spinner holding up one end in that match.


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