Australia in South Africa, 2005-06 March 8, 2006

Boje on verge of recall

Cricinfo staff

Nicky Boje has returned to domestic cricket and taken a bag of wickets © Getty Images
Nicky Boje is on the verge of being recalled to the South African squad for the first Test against Australia, barely two months after being unceremoniously dumped and subsequently not having his central contract renewed. However, with Johan Botha currently out of the reckoning due to a suspect action the selectors are again studying their options.

Boje is certainly making a strong case for his inclusion with 15 wickets in the last two SuperSport series matches - including a career-best 8 for 93 against the Eagles. With Paul Adams currently struggling to hold down a spot in the Cabe Cobras' first team the only other real option is Robin Peterson, who has impressed during the one-day series against Australia.

Haroon Lorgat, the convenor of selectors, told The Cape Times that he thinks the decision not to offer a central contract to any frontline spinner has paid dividends. "I think it does show us that we were wise not to offer any national contracts to spin bowlers this year. They have all upped their level of performance, which has been encouraging."

Despite South Africa's 2-0 series defeat in Australia, Lorgat added that he didn't anticipate any other changes to the squad. The margin of defeat was made to look more convincing because Graeme Smith was forced to set Australia a chaseable total at Sydney after rain disrupted the match.

"Personally, I was not disappointed with the form of our Test side in Australia," explained Lorgat. "We competed well at Perth and Melbourne and our defeat at Sydney would not have happened under different circumstances.

He added that South Africa are unlikely to gamble with the balance of their side, sticking to their tried and tested method. "Being the start of the series, we will probably be conservative in our thinking and follow the traditional route of six specialist batsmen and four specialist bowlers."

The selection process will be made easier if Jacques Kallis returns to full fitness, meaning he could take on the role of a fifth bowler. Lorgat said that Kallis is confident, but they won't take any risks by rushing him back. "We have learned from hard experience that, when a player says he is fit, then we must put him through a stringent fitness test."

There has been speculation that Shaun Pollock might be moved up the order to No. 6, taking on the mantle of key allrounder, to enable South Africa to play five specialist bowlers. This is now unlikely against Australia, but Lorgat said it is still in their long-term thinking.

"It is something we have been thinking about for some time. Shaun has been in outstanding form with both bat and ball in Australia and again back here in South Africa. We will just have to see how things work out but, if and when we do move him to No.6, it will change the balance of the side. It will enable us, for instance, to include an extra bowler which would reduce the work load on the other members of our attack."