England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Trent Bridge July 13, 2017

Rabada's absence could require extra seamer - du Plessis


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'SA pride themselves on coming back from defeat'

Never mind the pace and the wickets, it's the overs South Africa will miss most from Kagiso Rabada, who has to sit out of the second Investec Test because of a suspension. Rabada sent down 48 overs in the first Test at Lord's, slightly more than Morne Morkel (46.3) and many more than Vernon Philander, who was injured for much of the second innings (25). South Africa are pondering picking two quicks to make up for Rabada's absence.

"KG has been our spearhead for the last year and a half and he has been bowling very well but it's also the amount of overs that he bowls," Faf du Plessis, South Africa's returning captain, said. "In a three-seam attack, he has been the guy that has been bowling the most overs, so you lose your skill and you also lose the overs that he has bowled."

While du Plessis confirmed Duanne Olivier would definitely come into the XI for Rabada, he also suggested South Africa could include for a fourth quick. Chris Morris could be that bowler and will share the load with Olivier, Morkel and Philander, who has been struggling with injuries on the tour. Philander went into the first Test on the back of an ankle problem that he picked up during a county stint at Sussex, and was then hit on the hand while batting, which kept him off the field for the third afternoon.

X-rays revealed no fracture to his hand and he has been passed fit for the second Test but his bowling workloads may still be managed which means that South Africa could be willing to weaken their already weaker suit - batting - to accommodate more bowling options.

If anything, that illustrates the value Rabada has brought to the team since making his debut in November 2015. He has played in 18 of South Africa's 20 Tests and has bowled more overs than any other South African in that time. Rabada's 531.2 overs puts him sixth on the overall list and speaks to the workload he has had to carry.

Though he has not been at his best in this series and has struggled for rhythm, Rabada remains a big threat and South Africa would have wanted to be able to call on him as they look to square the series. Instead, they will have to rely on a different attack but, if du Plessis has it his way, a changed mindset.

"We understand where we made mistakes in the first game, it is probably how we respond to that. This is a big test of character for us. It's just about knowing we can do it and going into this next game and doing it."

South Africa have a hard-earned reputation for fighting back, especially when they are without players. In Australia last year, they lost Dale Steyn to an injury in Perth and then rallied to win the match and the series. This time, they have had more disruption with du Plessis missing the first Test on paternity leave and coach Russell Domingo not in Nottingham after the death of his mother.

Du Plessis said he saw some signs that it was all getting to the group when he sat on the sidelines at Lord's. "There were times when it was too easy for England," he said. "When they threw a punch back at us, we just sit back and let it happen and expected something to happen and it never did."

With or without Rabada, they intend to counterpunch.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on July 14, 2017, 9:31 GMT

    Andile Lucky Phehlukwayo will never be lucky but he should open or in top3 for SA. don't ask me why. He won't be good in playing middle order. Some players are born to defend , some born to attack. He is born to defend so he must play in top 3. Any other spot he will be a slop.

  • herman5470635 on July 14, 2017, 8:25 GMT

    I say play Morris AND Andile. as well as Vern, and Morne. 1)D Elgar, 2)HG Kuhn 3)HM Amla 4)F du Plessis* 5)T Bavuma, 6)Q de Kock† 7)CH Morris 8)AL Phehlukwayo 9)D Olivier 10)VD Philander 11)M Morkel

  • Richard on July 14, 2017, 7:24 GMT

    Since their belated readmission to interntional cricket, South Africa have been blessed with quality all-rounders - Rice, Pollock, McMillan, Klusener, Kallis come to mind. Now they can't find one and it shows. Duminy bowls, but is not in Moeen Ali's class - indeed, captain Smith was probably a more useful bowler. Parnell was once touted as the all-rounder of the future, but he is now lost. Morris is probably the best possibility, although I suppose there may be talent that South Africans know about.

  • sreedev on July 14, 2017, 3:32 GMT

    I feel Morris should be picked. He makes things happen and is more than a decent bat

  • castro6065533 on July 13, 2017, 22:34 GMT

    I don't like this idea at all, why further weaken the batting when it already failed last game. Besides if the pitch is a typical Nottingham greentop three pacemen will be plenty sufficient anyway.

  • Shekar on July 13, 2017, 20:46 GMT

    Pretorius would have been a decent allrounder that could have been benefitial in English conditions... alot more solid and defiant with the bat than Morris is and would have offered something similar to Phillander with the ball. I guess they felt they needed the pace of Morris

  • Varun on July 13, 2017, 20:04 GMT

    go for morris, and than if we lose so be it. ive taken great inspiration from the england odi side that aggressive options are the best

  • Coenraad on July 13, 2017, 19:02 GMT

    If you intend to win cricket Tests, you need to have the attack to do so. Going with the defensive mindset (quick, add another batsman) reduces your changes of winning and leaves you with the planless and aimless group that is the current Protea squad.

    Come on, Faf! Go for the win!

  • Ron on July 13, 2017, 17:14 GMT

    It is quite ironic that the one cricket team that I have never seen without a bunch of quality / decent all rounders would now be struggling to find a 'balance'. I don't know if this is the quota or something else but that long line of stocky all rounders with short back and sides hairstyles, medium fast bowling, obdurate test batting, and good slip fielding appears to be drying up. Sad. (these 2¢ brought to you by HADESLOGIC)

  • Ben_Al1220041 on July 13, 2017, 16:56 GMT

    Play Morris and start grooming a long term all-rounder for the number 7 slot. Pretorius, Smith, Mulder, Fortuin etc. Whoever it is needs to be good enough to bat at 7 and bowl 15 overs an innings. SA should no longer risk only 4 specialist bowlers

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