South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Cape Town December 29, 2011

Rudolph, Prince put on notice for decider

ESPNcricinfo staff

Jacques Rudolph and Ashwell Prince, the two most under-pressure South Africa batsmen, have been put on notice after Alviro Petersen was retained in the squad for the deciding Test against Sri Lanka in Cape Town, following the visitors' historic series-levelling victory in Durban. But the selectors have resisted more dramatic changes despite the hosts being bowled out for 168 and 241.

Rudolph was recalled to the Test side against Australia after an absence of nearly five years but, in four matches since, has failed to take his opportunity with a top score of 44 from seven innings. Prince has managed one Test half-century this season and a useful 39 in Centurion, but endured a poor match in Durban with 11 and 7 which included falling to the reverse-sweep in the first innings. He then was involved in a horrid mix-up that resulted in Hashim Amla's run-out on the fourth day.

One option available for South Africa is to move Rudolph down the order and recall Petersen to accompany Graeme Smith in the opening partnership. Petersen certainly has form behind him after scoring 115 for the Lions in the current round of SuperSport series matches and has made 659 runs at 59.90 this season. However, Smith warned against any knee-jerk response to the 208-run defeat at Kingsmead. "A good reflection and good solid decisions are needed, not emotional ones," he said.

Elsewhere the selectors will have to decide how to accommodate Vernon Philander back in the team after he made good progress from the knee injury he picked up on the eve of the second Test. With Marchant de Lange having taken 7 for 81 on debut it will require a tough call over who to leave out although Morne Morkel has been below his best in the series. "It will come down to a tactical decision," Smith said. "To have the stocks is great. It's a nice challenge to have. The selectors like to remain consistent."

Smith, though, indicated his desire for the selectors to resist any temptation to field an all-pace attack and leave out Imran Tahir despite the legspinner being considerably outbowled by Rangana Herath at Kingsmead. Durban was the first time Tahir had been severely tested in the first innings of a Test and, unlike his predecessor Paul Harris, didn't always offer Smith control.

"It's the first game that Imran has had a good bowl," Smith said. "He is developing every game. He is still an exciting option for us and I would like to see the selectors stick with that for as long as possible."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jack on January 1, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    @ Chris Campling: Boucher's had a bad year, not merely a bad test. He's averaged just over 18 (6.67 in the series against Australia); Matt Prior has averaged just under 65. And at 35 years of age, Boucher's not really a long term option.

  • Zaeem on January 1, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    i dont think sa must drop boucher

  • ridma on December 31, 2011, 23:18 GMT

    it will be good tactical move if we send someone like herath as a opener with TP to protect first 15 overs(only if we had to bat first). This cape town ground can create some drama within first 15 overs early in the morning.after that SA will not get any chance to create any problems to SL players.they dont have a good spinner.

  • mahjut on December 31, 2011, 12:38 GMT

    yeah, they are very flawed this SA team. they d have a tendency to get very over confident and then have no back up plan (and thus capitulate) when things go slightly wrong. Prince usually provided some grit - but probably isn't up to it. However, I would drop Rudolph not Prince for Peterson [actually I think it's time to drop all of Rudolph, Prince and Boucher ... not Tahir just yet but he needs to do something quickly] Peterson, Duminy and Khun to come in...but the squad suggests Peterson for either Rudolph or Prince

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    Some of the points made here are crazy - drop Smith, Kallis?- but at least one is very valid: South Africa play at their best when they are not expecting to win. They were beaten by the West Indies and India (at least twice in recent years) because of over-confidence. As for the players, I don't see why Rudolph should keep his place - he gets out when he should go on. I'd shift AB up to open - he did it in ODIs before he became the keeper, or, if Peterson is back in the frame, why not reinstate Prince as an opener? And you don't drop a great keeper after one poor Test (with the bat). Mark Boucher will know himself when it is time to go. One last thing - have South African groundsmen forgotten the art of preparing a pitch that suits the home side more than the visitors?

  • ridma on December 31, 2011, 9:29 GMT

    if SL can beat SA in durban with 208 score margin. they should be able beat SA at cape town with by an innings and 208. As experts have mentioned pitch going to be more deteriorated after 3rd day and more cracks will be visible than in durban. This is a spinners paradise. SA only spinner hasnt done well so far in these series.SL have the opportunity to record their 1st test series victory in SA.

  • ridma on December 31, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    experts says cape town pitch going to be little bit more spinner friendly than we expected. this is a fantastic news for sri lanka.they have predicted cracks may open even earlier than 2nd test. It looks like again its going to be a SL game again.but we need to be careful.the location of this ground is bit similar to asgiriya in kandy. Therefore there is a possibility of unexpected things to be happen in the morning session. simply SL should not try to be aggressive within first 15 overs in the morning. When we consider other factors this is a much better pitch for Herath specially after lunch.if SL had use herath in SA in the past they may have achieve this feet lot more earlier.

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    I think, In place of Rodulph, south africa should call in form HERCHELLE GIbbs for opening the batting, and in place of A.Prince, S.A should call colin Ingram.. This would improve S.A batting strenth....

  • Christo on December 30, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    Maybe it is time for all pace attack. Switch out Prince and Peterson and drop Rudolph down the order. Seeing that de Villiers will take gloves in ODI's maybe retire Boucher (for now anyway) and then keep Prince.

    Smith, Peterson, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers,Rudolph, Prince, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, De Lange.

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2011, 21:30 GMT

    Ok, tough as it is to say but Smith needs to go. Also Bouch, Prince and, at this point, Morkel. Biif doesnt seem to care anymore; he has no fight left in him.

    Petersen, Elgar, Amla, Kallis, DeVilliers, Duminy, Smit, Steyn, Philander, Tahir, DeLange.

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