South Africa v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Cape Town January 1, 2012

Prince dropped for Newlands Test


Ashwell Prince has been dropped from the South African squad to play Sri Lanka in the third Test starting in Cape Town on Tuesday. Prince's absence makes it a certainty that recalled batsman Alviro Petersen will have a spot in the starting XI but it has yet to be decided whether Petersen will open or slot into Prince's role at No. 6.

Prince's place has been under scrutiny since the start of the season after he failed to score a half-century in either of South Africa's last two series, against Pakistan and India in 2010-11. He managed 109 runs in three Test matches this summer, including a half-century against Australia in Johannesburg in November, but failed to push on from there.

Prince paid the price for South Africa's spectacular implosion with the bat on the second day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Durban, when they were bowled out for 168. Prince was dismissed for 11, the joint fifth-highest individual score on a dismal card, playing a reverse-sweep against Rangana Herath in the first innings. In the second knock, he was involved in a nightmare run-out, during which he turned his back on Hashim Amla, who called for a risky single, and it resulted in Amla's run-out. Prince was later dismissed for seven, a second failure in the match, after being moved up the order to No. 5.

Despite his barren patch, Prince has not been the only batsman under scrutiny of late. Jacques Rudolph, who made his comeback to the side after an absence of five years against Australia, was also thought to be fighting for his place. Rudolph forced his way back into national colours after two magnificent seasons at first-class level. He topped the 2010-11 rankings, with 954 runs for the Titans and managed 592 runs from four matches this season.

However, Rudolph has failed to translate that form onto the international stage. In seven innings, he has top-scored with 44. Although Rudolph has looked confident at the crease, he has often been dismissed playing reckless shots and admitted that he wanted to be "more selective" in his stroke-play. He has also confessed to feeling some pressure to perform at the highest level and that may have played a part in weighing him down.

His struggle for success in the opening berth makes it likely that Rudolph will be the one to move to in to Prince's spot at No. 6 while Petersen will return to the top of the order, where he has already had success. In nine Tests, Petersen averaged 33.64 but had to make way for the prolific Rudolph.

Since being dropped, Petersen has scored three first-class centuries, including one for South Africa A against a touring Australian side. Although he said it was "not nice getting dropped from the national team," he hinted that it served as motivation to keep performing.

"Every time I played for the Lions, I was focused on that game, that day and that session," Petersen said in Cape Town. "That really helped me a lot. I wasn't grumpy about being dropped." His place in the batting order has not yet been discussed but Petersen said he has no preference about where he would like to play. "I'd bat one to 11 just to be able to play for South Africa," he said.

Prince could do well to look at how Petersen reacted, since he will have to do the same to get his place back. With five rounds of SuperSport Series cricket coming up, Prince will have plenty of opportunity to prove himself ahead of tours to New Zealand and England next year.

A source told ESPNcricinfo that Prince took the news well and left the squad determined to do whatever it takes to book his flights to those destinations. "He has been through this before," the source said. "And he knows what he needs to do to get back in the side."

Prince was dropped previously in 2002 and spent three years out of the team before making a comeback in 2005. He was also missed out on a place when he injured his thumb in late 2008, just before the series against Australia. JP Duminy replaced Prince and performed so well that there was no longer space for Prince in the side. He was eventually tried in an opening role but when that failed, was moved back down the order.

Meanwhile, Vernon Philander has been declared fit for the third Test. Philander suffered a mild strain to his left knee while training in Durban and sat out during the Boxing Day encounter. His replacement, Marchant de Lange, took seven wickets in the first innings, making him the eighth debutant to take a five-for in 2011. Despite his sensational start to Test cricket, de Lange is expected to make way for Philander, after Morne Morkel showed signs of returning to form in the second Test.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • saud on January 2, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    The Best South African 11 for 3rd Test match against Shrilanka. Greame Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers,CA Ingram, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Marchant de Lange, and Morne Morkel .

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    @Valavan. What happen to your so called no1 team. Anyway now your results is 5 out of 5 isn't it? No any no1 team (bogus) lost like that.True SL lost but not clean sweep like your team faced (all our defeats are 0-1 only so far at home or away in the recent time).Your team is lucky(since your batters not faced Philender in SA).If he played last time results could have been differant. But SL lost even in this series 2-1 to SA still SL can happy more than any team. Hope SL will win.All the best SL.

  • Sopaka on January 2, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    There's a lot written here about Boucher, Morkel, Rudolph, Kallis and Smith. Going into the next game after a shocking, unexpected 200+ runs thrashing they can't be feeling all that great. I don't expect them to read the comments of Cricinfo, but, surely unlike days of old, now they must be aware of what people think of them, thus adding pressure. Sri lankans on the other hand, have done what no one expected them to do and must be on top of the world. They also appear to be managing their limited resources to maximum effect. Expect a good game tomorrow. May the best side win. As a crazy SL fan, even if our boys lose, they have done enough already for me to be proud of them.

  • Valavan on January 2, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    @Sinhaya, hahahahahahahahahahaha, i can just laugh at SL batting except of Sangakkara who show class out of subcontinent. I am neither Indian fan, i am saying the truth, you are speaking phanthom, it was good SL won a test and join other Asian teams who won tests in SA. But i wont put money on SL lineup whose weaknesses were exposed well by Pakistan, Familiar conditions in UAE, i thought ODI series could be closer or even share the T20s, PAK just rolled over, SA is definitely chokers in big tournaments and knock outs, SL is not Australia or almighty England to defeat them at home. I would just say Good luck, hope you will write tomorrow as well.. Dream on but dont go overboard, i wouldnt believe any thrashing that SL will give unless its done. Even the Durban test was considered as a UPSET in CRICINFO. cricinfo please publish.

  • Sopaka on January 2, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    @ Priyantha Gunarathna, Thilan got dropped for a handful of failures? Really? He was the best performing batsman we had. Since 2008 he averages over 70 with the bat, better than anyone in the world.

  • Earl on January 2, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    Why did SA change captain for ODI? Was Smith doing a bad job? He was not dropped as a batsman.He has motivated SA to some of the most disappointing losses.He has not been able to save them with his bat,It is about time they change this bloke.

  • mahjut on January 2, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    Poor Prince - as someone mentioned already, he has been really badly managed. If he had been given the same management that AB or Amla have had he'd be right up there with them - or ahead. Peterson himself did little wrong in that tricky openning spot - any worse than Rudolph, who now, for some reason, they're sticking with. I can only imagine they think his years in the UK will be useful next summer.

  • Dummy4 on January 2, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    No one, even the most patriotic of SL supporters predicted a SL win in Durban. But SL by playing better cricket and by applying pressure on SA batsmen when they bowled forced them into making mistakes. So lets not make any predictions for this test match because with series tally standing at 1-1 and with everything to play for anything can happen. Mahela is heavily overdue for runs and so is Dilshan. Mahela should not even dream of captaincy if he cannot justify his position as a batsman if Dilshan continues to fail. Sri Lanka needs consistent reliable batsmen. Mahela and Dilshan are no where near that. Becuase they are backed up by the media these two survive in the team. As for SA, one or two of their top order batsmen should settle down to play a long innings. Thilan and Sanga (discounting the low scores in first 3 outings in this series) are the most consistent of SL batsmen. Unfortunately Thilan got dropped for a handful of failures.

  • Victor on January 2, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    What has Boucher done better than Prince? Prince, Boucher & Morkel should have made way for Duminy, Peterson & De Lange. Not sure about Tahir either. But for goodness sake get Morkel to play franchise cricket to improve his form & let the fringe players have a go to gain some experience before SA head off overseas.

  • Ryan on January 2, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    @Andy1102: You missed out Dane Vilas mate. Vilas: 26 yrs, f/c avg 45.19, 2.86 dismissals p/g. He could have more dismissals per match but he plays on one of the worst bowling teams in SA. I reckon he has taken over from Kuhn as the #2.

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