South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth February 18, 2014

Feisty or Fast: SA undecided on No. 7


South Africa will have to choose between feisty and fast for the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth. With Ryan McLaren ruled out with concussion, the No.7 spot has opened up again and it seems one of Wayne Parnell or Dean Elgar will be asked to fill it. 

Peter Siddle expects it to be Parnell, who he thought to be next in line. Others in the Australia camp have indicated they think South Africa would add a specialist batsman to their XI. And South Africa themselves still seem undecided. 

"Wayne has been bowling quickly and he is also left-arm so it's a nice option for us," Morne Morkel said. "And Dean is like a staffie. He is tough as nails. If he gets the nod, he will be up for it but I'm as excited as you to see who they go for." 

Essentially, the choice is between a bowling allrounder or a specialist batsmen but Hugh Page, a former selector, believes they could both be included, at the expense of Robin Peterson.  "I would like to have four seamers and make JP Duminy the main spinner. Then you have Parnell for McLaren and a specialist batsmen," Page told ESPNcricinfo. 

Although Page's first-choice for the batting job would be Quinton de Kock, South Africa's selectors will work within the parameters of the squad which leaves Elgar as their only choice. 

"We need to have a good partnership to see how Australia's bowlers respond after spending a long time in the field," Page said. "The only batsmen who really showed they can play quick bowling in Centurion were Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and then Vernon Philander." 

With Philander's batting earning the praise of both Page and former convener of selectors Mike Procter, the voices are growing louder for him to become South Africa's allrounder. Page was involved with selection when Philander first came through and said he remembers him being "a genuine allrounder, who then got picked on bowling, so that became his focus."  

But beyond his skills, Page said Philander's attitude is what stood out for him. "We should get him up the order because it's not in his nature to run away from anyone," he said. "When you're playing Australia, you've got to have a few street-fighters in your side because Australia are bullies and they can get on top of you, you have to people who can counter that. You can't go to a gunfight with a pellet gun." 

Parnell, despite worries over inconsistency, is seen as having a similarly strong persona, which combined with his pace would lead Page to put him in the XI. "He'll bring some variation because he is a left-armer and if he gets it right, he could be really good." 

What South Africa are looking for is someone who can "front up" as Morne Morkel described it and show some heart.  For that reason, Elgar is too often dismissed and talk of the pair he picked up on debut in Perth begins again. But Morkel indicated Elgar has a fair amount of fight in him to have got past that, just as South Africa have moved on from the Mitchell Johnson treatment of last week. 

"We had a meeting today and it was very productive session," Morkel said. "We are the No.1 team in the world and its important to stand up and react to what happened last weekend. We know its going to be tough. We just have clarity in our minds."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on February 19, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    This bizarre Morkel bashing is out of hand. Lots of commenters here, with NO STATS TO BACK THEM UP! Just opinions, which we all have, & most stink.

    Look through all the test matches SA has played in the last 2 years. You will be surprised to see how many times Morkel has been the best bowler. E.G. 1st match against India at the Wanderers. Look at Morkels figs before he was injured. By far the best bowler. Steyn was miserable.

    In THAT test in Adelaide. Who was SA's best bowler - Morne Morkel.

    Basin Reserve, Wellington March 2012 - SA trying to win the match & series as NZ bat out their 2nd inns: Morkel took 6/29. NO OTHER SA BOWLER TOOK A WICKET. The match was a draw. SA would have topped the ICC rankings if they won.

    UAE 2010/2011 - who was better, Steyn or Morkel? Surprise, Morkel!

    I am not a Morkel fan. However, I am much less a fan of those who spout off derogatory opinions without any facts to back them up. Talk is cheap. Before you demean the man - DO THE RESEARCH

  • David on February 19, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast wrote "You guys are missing the trick here. The guy who most needs to be dropped, more than Alviro, Faf, JP, RobbieP&Mclaren etc is "Morne Morkel". I'm sorry but he is far from good enough nowadays. Way past his sell by date. How on earth he has survived the chop for so long only Smith, Hudson, Donald&AB know!"

    ZCFOutkast. Take a look at the bowling figures of all the SA bowlers during the 1st home test against India - the Wanderers test. Who was, by far, the best SA bowler? Answer - Morne Morkel.

    He was SA's best in THAT Adelaide test, in the UAE, etc etc. Fact is, when the wickets come easy, Philander & Steyn pile them up. When the going is tough, when conditions don't suit them, Morkel makes the breakthroughs, & takes wickets. I'm not pretending the is the second coming of Mike Proctor, but he is way undervalued, & much much more reliable than Lopsy. Your problem with Morkel is not cricket based, but rather his heritage.

  • Matthew on February 19, 2014, 11:56 GMT

    My vote is for Abbot. Much closer replacement for Kallis in my opinion. Remember they picked Kallis when he was young (19), and I think Abbot deserves the same opportunity. His figures were good in the 1 test he played.

  • Dummy4 on February 19, 2014, 11:11 GMT

    Ok who is gonna get kicked; Both Peterson's and JP Dumminy. Quinton De Cock, Imran Tahir, Wayne Parnell and Dean Elgar need to be in the playing 11. 1.Graeme Smith 2.Dean Elgar 3.Hashim Amla 4.AB Devilliers 5.Faf Du Plesis 6.Quinton De Cock(wk) 7.Wayne Parnell 8.Vernon Philander 9.Dale Steyn 10.Morne Morkel 11.Imran Tahir.

  • nalin on February 19, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    Both PETERSENs performed poorly in last test. AB was struggling with his hand with wicket keeping and MacLaren is injured. Picking Quinton de Cock is an absolute must as a wicket keeper batsman and the next question is whether the pitch is helpful for spinners and if so does SA have a useful spinner. only spinner in SA who could win a match is Imran Tahir who is bearing scars of Adelaide. If and only if SA consider not bothering with spin I will take 4 seamers including Parnel, De cock as wicketkeeper batsman and pick one of the Petersens. Robin if an additional spinner may be handy or Alviro if not. This will determine where De Cock bats. I had a conspiracy theory in 2003 world cup when I thought SA were hoping INDIA or SL were going to ambush Australia in Port Elizabeth with spin but Australia survived and won the WC.

  • jan on February 19, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    @Jagger. McClaren dropped? Thought he was injured? Two reasons for de Kock,

    Having AB bat at 4, for hes our best batsmen, also the best in the world. So relieving him from the gloves to do so. Then by replacing Peterson and McClaren, if you would like to say so with Parnell as hes our next in line paceman in the squad must be a stronger choice in this situation. This must be a stronger team than the first test XI? Anyway, Duminy is a underated bowler and by giving him the role as wel,l will only be good for the bloke.


  • Richard on February 19, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    It looks like most South African supporters think the best way for Duminy to rediscover form is to bowl feeble tweakers and get smashed around the park, and make their 3rd drop keep wicket for three tests. Then to sack Petersen and McLaren, who both took more wickets than Philander and Morkel.

    Evidently the way to a better side is the unconventional way in South Africa.

  • Xiong on February 19, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    @dunger.bob The best excuse was that the English team is too old. Despite being significantly younger than the Australian team in all departments.

  • rob on February 19, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    @ chicko1983: Some very interesting stats you posted re the number of overs bowled in the Ashes. Very interesting indeed. Why then did the Englishmen look like they'd been through hell just before stepping into something much worse and our guys looked as fresh as foals on a crisp winter morning? .. I'll tell you why. Bowlings a hell of a lot more fun if you're taking wickets instead of getting belted from pillar to post.

  • jan on February 19, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    My team for PE:

    Peterson, Smith, Amla, AB, Faf, Duminy (spin), de Kock (wk), Philander, Parnell, Steyn, Morkel.

    Go Proteas, you can do it!!!!!!!


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