Australia in South Africa 2013-14 January 28, 2014

Parnell, McLaren likely for Australia Tests


Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell are likely to be included in South Africa's Test squad for the upcoming series against Australia. While both should feature in the group, which will be without Jacques Kallis for the first time in 18 years, only one of the two all-rounders is expected to make the final XI.

Although neither McLaren nor Parnell bat in the top-order, whoever plays will slot into the lower middle-order and act as the fourth seamer in a line-up that will probably have to do away with the seven specialist batsmen strategy that has been in place for the last year-and-a-half. Instead, South Africa will position an allrounder at No.7, to ensure they have sufficient bowling options to accompany their three seamers and sole spinner.

Robin Peterson is the man in possession of the slow-bowling role and is likely to keep his spot for the Australia series. Imran Tahir, the other spinner in the mix, may not feature in the squad at all after being dropped for the Boxing Day Test against India. Tahir could be left to continue playing for his franchise, the Lions, in order to ensure he stays match ready.

Others who are likely to be considered but will probably also be left to continue playing in the first-class competition - which resumes the day after the Test series starts on February 12 - are top-order batsman Stiaan van Zyl, who tops the Sunfoil series run charts and left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks, who has the most wickets in the tournament so far this season. Hendricks is only in his second season as a regular franchise player and has already caught the attention of higher-ups, which could be an indication South Africa are searching for a left-armer to complete their Test line-up.

That may give Parnell the edge over McLaren, despite him being less experienced. Although Parnell has played three Tests for South Africa, in 2010, compared to McLaren's one that same year, he is younger in years and seasons in the game. What Parnell offers is a little more pace, which may be the key ingredient in what is expected to be a battle of the bowlers against Australia.

The pair should have one last opportunity to tip the scales one way or the other in a yet-to-be-announced fixture between South Africa's Test side and an A team. The match is expected to take place between February 4 and 7 at the Wanderers and will replace the one-off Test CSA proposed to Zimbabwe.

With Zimbabwe's players still on strike following non-payment of salaries, Brendan Taylor's men could not make the trip south so CSA have had to come up with an alternative arrangement to give their players first-class cricket. Although the majority of the national squad have had game time courtesy of the domestic twenty-over competition, the key trio of Dale Steyn, AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith have not been in action as much as team management would have liked and this match should benefit them most.

Steyn was given extended rest and took no part in the competition at all while Smith was ruled out of the tournament after playing in just three games. Smith picked up an ankle injury. De Villiers is the biggest worry. He could not play for the Titans because he had hand surgery and is on the mend.

De Villiers is making steady progress but there is still some concern he may not be fully fit by the time the Australia series starts. If he is only able to bat, and not keep wicket, the reserve gloveman Thami Tsolekile will slot in at No.7, leaving no room for either Parnell or McLaren. Quinton de Kock, who plays for South Africa in limited-overs formats and has had an impressive start to his first-class career, will probably not be considered in the immediate term.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SamWintson92 on January 28, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    1. Thami Tsolekile has very ordinary domestic stats. He's just not good enough to feature in the test side unless miracles like topping the batting chart or averaging over 50s or 60s in the ongoing FC season. By the way, 28 years Dane Vilas is also in the run and has better stats than Tsolekile. Vilas averages 42 in FC. 2. If De Villiers isn't able to keep, then it's time SA should include De Kock in place of retired Kalllis. 3. If De Villiers can keep then I prefer McLaren at no 7. Parnell isn't worth a no 7 spot. His batting stats doesn't match the requirements for a no 7 allrounder slot. In the bowling arena, players are Kyle Abbott, Merchant De Lange and Beuran Hendricks are ahead of him.

    My test XI: 1 Smith (C) 2 Alviro 3 Amla 4 De Villiers 5 Du Plessis 6 Duminy 7 De Kock (WK) 8 Philander 9 Morkel 10 Steyn 11 Abbott Reserves: Van Zyl, Elgar, De Lange, Hendricks, Tahir, McLaren

  • dummy4fb on January 28, 2014, 20:59 GMT

    Alviro, Smith, Amla, Faf, AB, JP\De Kock, Elgar, Vern, Steyn, Morne, Beuran

    Beuran adds another dimension to SA bowling line. Vern with swing and seam. Steyn with swing and skiddy type of bowling. Morne with the steep bounce. JP right arm off spinner, Elgar left arm orthadox and Beuran left arm swing.

    We still deep bat and have bowling options. Mclaren has been decent at ODI's but in tests he will struggle. Parnell has been horrible and i cant believe they considering him now. Thami hasnt had any test exposure as far as i know and to play him against Australia would be foolish. De Kock has shown how he has grown in the short period his being playing for SA but JP is used as a spinner so thats a tough choice

  • Gareth_Bain on January 28, 2014, 20:47 GMT

    The Lions are .12 of a point off the top of the log in the Sunfoil Series... That said sometimes I wonder if some of ZCF's posts are satirical. I also think a big problem here is people are basing their test choices on T20 and L/O form not 4-day... In De Kock's only SS performance he made 0 & 3.

  • nitinchilwar on January 28, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    when is the south african test team going to announce??????????

  • NixNixon on January 28, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    @ZCFOutkast - luckily for SA you are not a selector. I remember a comment of yours a while ago stating that the SA test team needs Phangiso, Tsotsobe, Tsolekile and Bavuma in order to remain competitive (and No1 ranked) and you also mentioned that you will make Alviro captain and drop Smith (who days after your comment scored a 200 against Pakistan). Well my friend if you put all those players into one team then you kind of get the Lions franchise from Joburg and look how "well" they are doing. Bottom of the log, with their best batsmen being De Kock who you incidentally believes do not deserve a place in the squad in favour of Tsolekile. Wake up and smell the coffee. Its time you look at who is performing and not comment on ifs and buts my friend.

  • Mambahunter on January 28, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    @Msizi Cele Tsolekile has never been good enough to play test cricket. Brad Haddin has shown the importance of the number 7 batsman in the recent ashes. He is the guy that can rescue the team with the tail if things go bad, but you need an aggressive counter attacker for this role. If things go well he must usually negotiate a newish second ball and add quick runs with the lower order and tail. Unfortunately Tsolekile can do none of the above. He is a survivor at best and cannot make a difference with the bat... In modern cricket you cannot just be a gloveman. All the successful teams had good batsmen/wicketkeepers ie. Gilchrist/Prior/De Villiers.

  • creebo777 on January 28, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    Bevuma? He is not ready for test cricket,lonwabo ahead of beuran hendricks? Lonwabo doesnt even play four day cricket cause hes unfit,

  • Pot_Blou_Gevaar on January 28, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    Mid - to long term SA national test side contingency plan no.1……… (hopefully); Arrange regular spin 'sabbaticals' for the likes of Duminy, Elgar and Faf playing short County Cricket, Sub-continent league stints. Get these guys to work regularly with the spin doctors/ gurus of world cricket to refine their skills and develop further (and I don't mean BCCI, CA & EC 'spin doctors').

    Imagine a line-up which will include a front-line leg-break bowler in Faf and off-spinner in JP, batting individually at 5 & 7. Add to this batting line-up 1. Smith, 2. De Kock (wc), 3. Amla, 4. De Villiers and 6. Stiaan. Then add 4 front-line seamers..

    Project 2014 anyone at Cricket SA?

  • ZCFOutkast on January 28, 2014, 15:00 GMT

    @fakeXolile&everyone else, Thami WILL start for the Proteas in the series against Australia, and it's time AB grew a pair and went up the order. Anyone can do well from #5. Even Matthews, Steve Smith&Sakib!

    I like van Zyl, but he should only come in for Faf or Duminy, which is not possible right now. In any case by the time that spot opens up, discussion should be centering around Bavuma. He's improving his profile and with transformation on his side, and little difference in quality&success between him&other options, it will be hard to argue against him for the middle order if he keeps up at this rate.

    Just like the article, you are excited about the raw Hendricks because he's a left-armer. We already have a proven left-armer at international level, and that is Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Lack of FC games, match-fitness etc, he remains the only prudent choice if we want one. You guys make me laugh. One day it's Marchant, the next it's Abbott, and now even he should be sidelined for Hendricks.

  • dummy4fb on January 28, 2014, 14:49 GMT

    It sounds senseless to say Thami is the best keeper we have and than in the same breath say don't choose him. How many no. 7's in int'l cricket have 40+ avg? Why do you want a no. 7 that has 40+ avg anyway. Your top 6 should be scoring 300+ without relying on no. 7 to score 100s. If Thami deserves to play, then play him. His age shouldn't be a factor, Haddin keeps well at 36. De Kock is a great limited overs top order batsman, but he is far from being a Test batsman/keeper. Give him time otherwise you turn him into a Neil McKenzie.

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