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November 11, 2012
The absence of a part-time bowler is usually not a cause for much concern except if you are South Africa in Brisbane over the next few days. While JP Duminy's heel injury shortens their specifically created seven-man batting line-up, it also takes away their only spin option, something that they may have wanted to call on even if only to perform a holding role.
Although Duminy has not been a serious bowling option for South Africa in the past, much was expected of him in this match. He was the only slower bowling option as South Africa opted for an all-pace attack and handed a debut to Rory Kleinveldt on what they expected to be a paceman's paradise. Instead, the surface has been termed "a little slower than normal," by Ben Hilfenhaus and does not offer much bounce.
Although it hasn't taken much turn either, it is a pitch that requires bowlers to put a lot of effort in and South Africa may find a need for someone to provide respite to the quicks, which they now don't have. Without Imran Tahir in the side, Duminy would have been that bowler.
Duminy bowled significantly in Sydney in the warm-up match and had increased his workload in the nets. Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen all said he would be relied on to some degree in this match while some of the management called him "an underrated but effective spinner."
Instead, South Africa will have to rotate between their five seamers without tiring any of them out. At least, it does leave them one-dimensional because each of the quintet offers something different.
Even without much movement in the air, Dale Steyn is fierce at the best of times and Australia's top order froze in his presence. Vernon Philander found some seam movement in his first spell and had best summed up the length to bowl while even Morne Morkel adjusted enough to a fuller length than he is usually comfortable with.
Morkel still erred on the side of too short but the major culprit was the rookie, Rory Kleinveldt, who bowled a first Test spell which lasted only three overs. That is nowhere near enough to make a judgment on him even though sent down four no-balls and conceded five boundaries. Anything from nerves, the occasion and a lack of composure could have caused him to bowl plenty of short and wide deliveries.
Jacques Kallis, the final prong, did not bowl at all, having spent the first two sessions batting. To rest him after he has had a long period in the middle with the bat has become the norm but it could have piqued the interest of those who heard Smith say the veteran allrounder had a few niggles at the toss. Immediately after Smith uttered the words, they were explained by team management as merely referring Kallis' recent chest infection and overall management.
Kallis himself brushed aside any fitness concerns. "I'm ready to go, it's just about managing the workload," he said. "My body is alright at the moment." Kallis fielded and took two sharp catches at second slip as proof of that and will no doubt have to run in hard on day four if South Africa hope to move the game forward quickly enough to force a result.
He also did not feel as though the attack would lack for anything, particularly because of the conditions. "There's not too much on offer spin wise," Kallis said. "It's a good Test wicket with a little in it for the fast bowlers. We've got five seamers so hopefully we've got enough cover."
If Australia's batsmen get away from them, as they did when Ed Cowan and Michael Clarke had stabilised after the early triple-strike, one or even two of those seamers will have to be able to bowl many overs and keep things tight. Philander is the obvious choice as Steyn and Morkel are the obvious choices for short bursts but Kallis could find himself required to bowl more than he would otherwise have done.
Smith's only spin options are to use himself or fellow opener Alviro Petersen, who got a bit of practice in the recent Champions League T20. Jacques Rudolph once used to be a part-time leggie but bowling has affected his back and he will likely only be called on if absolutely necessary if at all. That point is some way away though and a resigned Hilfenhaus did not think South Africa would get there at all. "They have a lot of bowlers in the make-up of the team so I'm guessing they will find a way to cope," he said.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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