South Africa won't field all-pace attack
Russell Domingo, South Africa's assistant coach, has all but ruled out the possibility of dropping legspinner Imran Tahir from the XI for the first Test in Brisbane, despite the pace and bounce of the Gabba pitch.
Domingo said he had read that the surfaces at the Gabba may be the fastest in the world, but South Africa would put their emphasis on consistency in selection and stability of the side, ahead of the temptation to field an all-pace attack.
"The balance of our side is important and with Jacques Kallis as a fourth seamer, I think we would always look to have a spinner in the team," Domingo said after the South African bowlers toiled on the opening day of the tour match against Australia A. "Gone are the days when a South African team goes without a spinner."
South Africa's vice-captain, AB de Villiers, had similar thoughts about the make-up of the team for the first Test. "I always like to have a spinner in the team," De Villiers said. "It changes the whole pace of the game. It's always something to fall back on when things are not going your way."
The indication is that Imran Tahir will be persisted with, although he has had a subdued start to his Test career. That means Rory Kleinveldt is unlikely to make his Test debut next week despite being the second best bowler, after Dale Steyn, at the SCG. On an unresponsive pitch, the South African bowlers had to bend their backs and Kleinveldt, with a point to prove, bent his the most. He had two wickets to show for it and the best economy rate of the lot.
Kleinveldt was selected on the strength of his domestic season for Cobras - not as impressive as Vernon Philander's was the season before - 32 wickets at an average of 17.93. Like Lonwabo Tsotosbe before him, Kleinveldt will have to get used to carrying drinks and missing out on game time back home. Domingo said Kleinveldt understood his position and would be ready nonetheless. "There is no doubt that, if he is called on, he will perform," Domingo said.
Kleinveldt will at least have a decent outing in this match; he has already bowled 19 of the 90 overs. The other two quicks - Steyn and Philander - bowled 18 and 16 overs respectively, while Tahir sent down 28. Despite the hard work, Domingo said the team could take plenty out of the first day.
"To be honest, we would probably rather have had a day like today than bowl a team out for 80 or 150," Domingo said. "Today, everybody got to have three or four spells and got some mileage in the legs, which is good."
Two bowlers who wouldn't have had that advantage since August are Kallis and Morne Morkel, who were rested from this fixture. Kallis fielded for the last session because he completed his recovery from a chest infection, and Morkel trained in the nets.
"They have been playing a lot of cricket with the World T20 and the Champions League so it's good for them to have a break," Domingo said. "We're not worried about the change from short format to long format. With Morne, especially, there's not much change in the lengths he will bowl in ODIs and T20s compared to Tests."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent