South Africa v England, 4th Test, Centurion January 19, 2016

De Kock to have fitness test, Steyn out


Quinton de Kock missed the third Test after injuring his knee the day before © Gallo Images

Quinton de Kock will undergo a final fitness test on Wednesday to asses whether he is able to return as wicketkeeper at Centurion. South Africa have also confirmed that Dale Steyn will not play and released Stiaan van Zyl from the 17-man squad announced on Tuesday - increasing the likelihood that 33-year-old Lions opener Stephen Cook will make his Test debut.

De Kock missed the third Test in Johannesburg after hurting his knee while at home the day before, forcing Dane Vilas to fly up from Port Elizabeth on the morning of the game. Vilas was not, however, retained in the squad for Centurion. Steyn was included but, as revealed by ESPNcricinfo, was not expected to play as he continues to recover from a shoulder problem.

Van Zyl had been under pressure after scoring just 69 runs in five innings as South Africa conceded the series to England after three Tests. He also struggled as an opener on the tour of India but South Africa resolved to give him a chance in home conditions.

With van Zyl now discarded, Cook appears to be in line to replace him. Kagiso Rabada, who plays under Cook for the Lions, backed him to make the step up after several seasons of heavy run-scoring at domestic level.

"Stephen Cook was the leading run-scorer last year, he was also the captain of the team," Rabada said. "He played against England representing South Africa A and he has done well there too. So he has proved himself even more. I am very happy for him . He was waited a long time and I think he deserves this."

Rilee Rossouw, a No. 3 batsmen who has asked to open the batting for his franchise, the Knights, is still part of the squad and could be in competition with Cook for the opening berth. The middle order will depend on de Kock's fitness and there remains the possibility de Villiers will take the gloves if the selectors also want to find a way to get JP Duminy into the playing XI. If Duminy is to displace another batsman, Faf du Plessis is most at risk following patches of poor form.

South Africa's bowling choices remain between three seamers and a spinner or four seamers, with the former more likely on what is not expected to be as sporting a pitch as the Wanderers was. With Steyn ruled out, South Africa will choose between Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Hardus Viljoen and Kyle Abbott. The early suggestion is that Abbott could find his way back in at the expense of one of Viljoen or Morris.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Steve on January 20, 2016, 11:42 GMT

    To the last poster, Duminy batting average for positions other than 7 is still only 33 (more than half his matches). Your argument doesn't hold up

  • ziyaad on January 20, 2016, 10:18 GMT

    @ITS.RACHIT, again how many batsmen average more than 32 coming in at number 7? You immediately lose half your chance to score big runs since you will be batting with the tail more often than not. Be fair and give him a chance at 3 or 4 like they did with some other players - opener to middle order. At least he adds something else with his bowling. We sorely missed his bowling at the wanderers.

  • ziyaad on January 20, 2016, 10:14 GMT

    @PROTEASFIRE, I agree that JP should be doing better but its really hard to average more than 30 batting at number 7 unless you are Adam Gilchrist. I mean they even moved deKok, and van Zyl and Faf above him. Half the time you have to bat with the tail which means it will affect your average. Also, JP has the best T20 record in SA history and is also pretty good in one dayers, again from number 7!!! Hardly fair that he has to accommodate every other player who is struggling but he never gets accomodated with the number 3 or 4 slot where he is suppose to be batting.

  •   Jacques Ferreira on January 20, 2016, 9:05 GMT

    What happened with Vernon Philander?

  • Marius on January 20, 2016, 7:52 GMT

    @ROHIT KUMAR Isn't it amazing that an Indian fan sitting Mumbai or whever you are, is able to pick a better and more balanced side than the SA selectors can. SA keep insisting on 4 frontline bowlers, either four seamers or three seamers and a spinner. 4 seamers always run out of gas and having spin on the 16th over of a test is hardly how you keep the pressure on the opposition.

  • Craig on January 20, 2016, 7:23 GMT

    My team would be:

    Cook Elgar Amla ABD Rilee (really rate him) Bavuma De Kock Morris Piedt Radaba Morkel

    Spinners always get wickets and JP just doesn't cut it at international level as a bowler or batsmen. So why get him to do both. I don't mind Cooks age, he is way younger than Chris Rogers and Adam Voges when they made their debuts and they averaged 45+ and 80 respectively.

    Long term, we need our quicks to develop more and improve consistency at test level. Get Steyn healthy. Start blooding an all rounder and invest in Rilee and Bavuma as the future Middle order.

  • Rachit on January 20, 2016, 6:40 GMT

    Duminy averages 32 and he is expected to be SA's saviour again ...

  • Marius on January 19, 2016, 19:17 GMT

    I see the selectors are buggering around as per usual. This team has chronic issues with balance. Unfortunately the number 6 position filled by Bavuma needs to be filled by a bowling all rounder. If SA has only three seamers and spinner then we are going to hit the wall after only 16 overs. First bowling change means spin in non conducive conditions. Is Wayne Parnell still alive? Or Albie Morkel? Or David Wiese? We won't know how they will perform in tests unless they get a chance. Bavuma will have to go up or down the order.

  • Rohit Kumar on January 19, 2016, 18:59 GMT

    team should have been 1 elgar 2 cook 3 amla 4.abd 5 faf/rossuww 6.Rudi second(wk) duminy 8.morris 9.rabada 10.morkel 11.viljoen

  • G on January 19, 2016, 18:25 GMT

    Too little too late , body language and performance proves that this team is shot to pieces...England win again.

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