Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 17, 2014

SA mull over No. 7 conundrum


South Africa will probably make one change for the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth, and it is likely to be at No.7. Andrew Hudson, the convener of selectors, admitted that South Africa are still working on getting the balance of their side right following the retirement of Jacques Kallis, and suggested that the role, given to Ryan McLaren in the first Test, may still be tinkered with.

"There might be a change but it will be a tweak. It's unlikely we are going to bring someone in from outside," Hudson said at the announcement of the World Twenty20 squad in Johannesburg. "Maybe we need to re-look at our No. 7 position. It's back to the dilemma of getting a balance - a squad that's balanced in Port Elizabeth conditions, that can be low and slow and sometimes can turn."

Despite singling out the spinner's role as a key one in the coastal city, Hudson provided the closest thing he could to an assurance that Robin Peterson's spot is safe, although he hinted the selectors are running out of patience- "We may need to consider putting in a batter at seven and then going with the three quicks and Robbie P."

Peterson took six wickets on his Test return in Perth in 2012, and kept his place throughout the last home summer as well as at the start of South Africa's tour to the UAE. There, in Abu Dhabi, he went wicketless and conceded 125 runs and was replaced with Imran Tahir. But when Tahir copped it against India at the Wanderers, Peterson was recalled again. He took four wickets against India in Durban and three against Australia in Centurion, but has continued to leak runs.

With only Imran Tahir as an alternative spin option at the moment, and Hudson saying the net will not be cast too far, Peterson and JP Duminy will continue to share the slow-bowling duties. Duminy, despite scoring a half-century seven innings ago, will also likely keep his place but may have a safety net in another batsmen to follow him, as Hudson hinted. Dean Elgar, who also bowls left-arm spin, would be the only choice from the current squad.

"There's no doubt JP's a class act. His form hasn't been great, but we all know he's a quality and he's done it before against Australia," Hudson said. "That's the dilemma - whether you play an all-rounder at seven, which gives you the insurance, or whether you go in like Australia and back your players to do a job with four bowlers."

Should South Africa decide on another all-rounder in the role and choose not to give McLaren another go, Wayne Parnell and Rory Kleinveldt are the two candidates available to them. Parnell's home ground is St George's Park and he offers pace but his inconsistency will be a worry, while Kleinveldt will beef up the lower middle order and would be required to do more of a holding job with the ball.

Whatever combination they decide on, Hudson expects the team to put up a better show than they did in Centurion. "They didn't play as well as they could have, and a few things went against them. But the team underperformed and it needs to pick up a gear in Port Elizabeth," he said. "It's about really application. It's about the players rallying together and realising they're up against it. Australia played really well; we were under par. There's no doubt they are the right players. They need to step up to the plate."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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  • Hildreth on February 19, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    I'm surprised that the SA selectors are still having a problem in deciding on a squad for the next test despite the injury to McLaren. DeKOCK is your man. I saw this guy bat in the ODI's against India and I was very impressed. He's a talent. He scores all around the ground, very aggressive but also has good good defensive technique. His approach is the right one for Johnson which is to score at every opportunity yet be solid in defense. Johnson might get frustrated if SA batsmen attack him successfully. Kallis's retirement left a big empty space in the SA test squad but trying to replace him with an allrounder may not be necessary right now. SA still has probably the best fast bowling team in the world with Stein, Morkel & Philander. Petersen has proven his ability with bat and ball. Duminy is also a good part time spinner. Remember it is this same attack that recently beat India. It's the batting that needs support. DeKock should play as keeper to free DeVilliers who's the best bat.

  • Paul on February 19, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    Pick a real keeper. Problem solved.

  • KP on February 19, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    In the past year there has not been a fast bowler that has dominated opposition team planning quite like Mitch Johnson. His form is comparable to the 80s Windies speedsters as it is not only statistically fearsome but also physically (all those bruises) and mentally draining. SA only have problems because everyone except AB have been tormented by Johnson. The bowling is fine but it is so hard to compete in games when you can not score in excess of 200 in an innings. I feel peterson should make way for Parnel/Abbot, De Kock in for Alviro and another batsmen in for McClaren. I think its time to give De Kock a go at the top maybe Alviro can do a job down the order. Regardless what changes SA make, they will lose this series barring rain unless they stop Johnson. Doing that seems impossible to me unless he gets an injury or can not play... just so much confidence at the moment. Australia to win this 3-0 and jump upto number 2 in the world...

  • Paul on February 18, 2014, 23:07 GMT

    To all those frustrated fans laying into Andrew Hudson, I understand your frustration and feel it every time a mediocre squad is selected. But let's be fair - Andrew Hudson is the front man, there are lots of manoeuvrings going on in the background, there's horse-trading to appease the politicians...and that's just the start. Poor Andrew is on a hiding to nothing and I'm pretty sure that in a quieter moment, over an evening beer in the privacy of his home, he'd tell you just that...that the squad has too many ordinary players in it, that his hands are tied and there's sweet FA he can do about it. Better to direct your ire to Cricket SA.

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    Well said Biohazard! I agree with most of your analysis.

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    SA need Marchant de lange or Abbott for the second test along with the 3 quicks

  • Android on February 18, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    not trying to be dismissive at all, rather trying to see things in perspective. Siddle and Harris are good bowlers, I think Harris could have been spoken of as a possible great bowler if not for injuries but i think Aus is playing down MJ impact to prevent them seeming like a one man team. no doubt they've got good players but before the home leg of the ashes australia was in the gutters now they leading the pack. as good as siddle, harris and lyon are MJ has given the team a huge dose of confidence. where was all the talk of best attack before the ashes. australia has always played well in SA, having never lost a series. while Australia has played at centurion once i think they've scored plenty of runs in SA before. The difference now is SA cant score runs in their backyard because of MJ. i hope MJ sprains a ankle because i was enjoying wathing SA beating the Aussies after years of torment.

  • Amit on February 18, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    Duminy is to South Africa what Raina is to India. Just potential. Never kintetic ;-)

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    Counterfactuals are waste of time, lets not waste time there.But you cant be dismissive of Siddle and Harris. Personally I dont like the way Siddle bowls, but he does a mighty fine job when Midge and Harris are at the other end.We can go through the Gabba test again and see how Lyon completely destroyed Carberry's footwork and then Johnson seized on it and then Lyon got two wickets.All I am saying that Mitch is getting wickets, but he is ably aided by others.And this was the highest score by the touring batting first at Centurion ,hence it was special, since 97 have been watching on TV how centurion plays ,its nightmare most of the time for teams batting first and hence 397 was special.

  • Michael on February 18, 2014, 14:45 GMT

    I'm so infuriated about this squad selection that I've decided to post another comment. Truth is this squad isn't an accurate representation of the talent in South Africa. Vetgat Kleinveldt has never impressed anyone, Tsolekile will make a mediocre number 9 batsman, Parnell is way too wayward, Alviro Petersen's form is non-existant, Robbie P can't turn a doorknob, JP Duminy has been owing us a decent innings for several years, Morne Morkel has been riding on Philander's and Steyn's successes and McLaren isn't in the top 10 bowlers or top 30 batsman in South Africa! Hudson is way too conservative in picking the squad. Several young guns have been knocking on the door, or should I say bashing it with a battering hammer, for several years? In what world is Kleinveldt better than Abbott or Hendricks? What more can Stiaan van Zyl and Rillee Rossouw do to be included in the squad? Simon Harmer is almost 10 years Robbie P's junior, yet he bats and bowls better! Wake up dear Mr. Hudson!

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