Rudolph, Prince put on notice for decider
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."