Cape Town - Theunis de Bruyn is a
player who is very highly rated by Proteas coach Ottis Gibson,
but eight Tests in to his Test career, he continues his struggles to find his
feet on the international stage.
It looked like he had turned the corner in Colombo
last July when, on a wicket that saw Sri Lanka's spinners dominate, De Bruyn
scored his maiden Test century in the toughest of conditions.
That was supposed to be the day that De Bruyn
arrived, but he has been poor in the ongoing Pakistan series having carded
scores of 29, 10, 13 and 4 over the Centurion
and Cape Town Tests.
Those returns have seen De Bruyn's Test average dip
to 19.33 in 16 innings, and while it is far
too early to write him off, his numbers are starting to look a lot like those
of another highly-rated top-order batsman in Stiaan van Zyl.
By the time he had left South Africa to sign a
Kolpak deal with Sussex, Van Zyl was averaging just 26.33 from 12 Tests
and he also had one century to his name.
De Bruyn was elevated to the top of the order in
the second innings of the second Test at Newlands due to Aiden Markram
struggling with a bruised thigh, but he was the only wicket to fall as the
Proteas chased down the 41 runs they needed for a series win.
With selection a major talking point in the
build-up to the Newlands Test, De Bruyn would have been the top order batsman
to fall out of the matchday XI if the selectors had opted to go in with four
seamers and a specialist spinner.
Given his failures at Newlands, that would have
also been the case for the 3rd Test at the Wanderers.
Now, with captain Faf du Plessis suspended, De
Bruyn is guaranteed another shot at getting some much-needed runs under the
"I think he is a fantastic player and he has
shown in Sri Lanka in those tough conditions what type of a player he is,"
Gibson told media following the end of the second Test.
"He's had a couple of failures, but I can tell
you that he is not disheartened.
"He knows that it's the nature of the game you
play. You're not going to score runs all the time and he is going to be
Perhaps more concerning than De Bruyn's low scores
has been the way he has been getting out, with two loose shots in Cape Town
seeing him lose his wicket.
Gibson has always been a coach, however, who
encourages his batsmen to take the game forward rather than merely look to
"When we set out the team we give guys
opportunities to go out and play and score runs however they feel is
best," he said.
"If Theunis feels that the best way for him to
score runs is to be positive and play shots, then that's fine.
"His thing then would be to make sure that he
executes properly. I think you'd still rather get out trying to be positive
rather than trying to defend or survive."
Gibson added that he was pleased by what he had
seen from the Proteas batting unit as a whole, especially given the difficult
conditions they were exposed to in South Africa.
"Our batsmen have shown a lot of mental
strength over the last 12 months. We have scored hundreds, but tough hundreds,
and that's what Test cricket has always been," he said.
"If you get a hundred you've worked your socks
off to get it and we've really worked hard at that."
The third and final Test at the Wanderers starts on