Who will partner Elgar in England?

2017-03-31 11:10
Dean Elgar (Getty)

Cape Town - With Stephen Cook struggling in New Zealand, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Proteas' opening batting partnership at the moment. 

Dean Elgar has nailed down one end, but who will accompany him when South Africa tour England for four Tests in July? 

Theunis de Bruyn was given that responsibility in the third Test against New Zealand in Hamilton, but he scored just 12 runs from his two knocks, even if he was unfortunate in the second innings. 

The new ball period in England will be crucial. With one of the best seam attacks in the world and on wickets that will aid them, the English will be sniffing an opportunity against what is emerging as a weak spot in this Proteas side. 

The Proteas were last in England in 2012 with Graeme Smith and Alviro Petersen opening the innings. Both played important roles as the Proteas secured a memorable 2-0 win in the three-match series. 

The problem here is that when Stiaan van Zyl was struggling in the opening berth against England at home last summer, the Proteas took the decision to back a specialist in the position. 

So, if they were to opt for De Bruyn over Cook in England, would they not be going back to the formula that they were trying to avoid when parting ways with Van Zyl? 

Still, those aren't the only options for convenor of selectors Linda Zondi and co. 

Here are SIX players the Proteas could call on to open in England:

Stephen Cook (11 Tests @ 33.26)

There is a school of thought suggesting that Cook will be given the first Test at Lord's as a last chance to prove his worth. He has notched up three Test hundreds already, but he looked so scratchy in New Zealand. The major concern is that, on wickets that offer something for the seamers, he struggles. It certainly looks that way. Cook has played the majority of his cricket on a flat Wanderers wicket, but England will be a different matter entirely. 

Theunis de Bruyn (1 Test @ 6)

Just the one Test for De Bruyn in New Zealand, but everybody knows that he is a seriously talented. He is naturally a middle order batsman, and this is the worry. De Bruyn needs to be given a crack in this Test side as soon as possible, and if his only way in is through the opening channel, then it may be worth the risk. He averages just under 50 in first class cricket and, at 24, his time has surely come. 

Aiden Markram (28 FC matches @ 41.38)

The former SA U-19 captain is now 22, but his first class experience is still limited. He has a vocal group of supporters who think he should be fast-tracked to the national side to replace Cook, and he has spent a lot of successful time at the top of the Titans order this season. Clearly a major talent, but is a tour to England the right time to unearth him?

Temba Bavuma (20 Tests @ 31.44)

A long shot, but there have been some rumblings of the compact Bavuma moving to the top of the order. He always knows where his off stump is and is a good judge of a leave, and that will be very useful in England. Has done the job once before in India, but it might be asking a little too much of a man who is under pressure to score runs to be elevated to an unfamiliar position at Lord's. 

Quinton de Kock (19 Tests @ 51.26)

Wouldn't this be something? There is no doubt that he could do it ... with his natural ability he can bat anywhere. An hour or two of De Kock at the top of an innings could quickly get the Proteas on the front foot, but the problem is work-load. There are very few who have opened the batting in Test cricket and also kept wicket. The Proteas want De Kock to play for as many years as possible, and would this move be the best way of prolonging his career given his batting responsibilities in limited over cricket as well? 

Heino Kuhn (131 FC matches @ 43.8)

Kuhn had another good domestic season with the Titans this year and has heaps of experience. Hard to see this one working out with the likes of De Bruyn and Markram also in line, but he certainly is an option. 


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