March 4, 2002

South Africa recall Cullinan and Adams for second Test

South Africa have recalled Daryll Cullinan and Paul Adams and will give 24-year-old Free State fast bowler Dewald Pretorius his first cap in the second Castle Lager/MTN Test match against Australia starting at Newlands on Friday.

Omitted from the team which lost the first Test match by an innings and 360 runs are left-arm spinner Nicky Boje, fast bowler Andre Nel and Boeta Dippenaar while Allan Donald has retired from Test match cricket.

The South African selectors will wait on the fitness of captain Shaun Pollock, who missed the first Test match with strained muscles in his side. Although Pollock has resumed bowling, he has not yet stretched himself and a final decision on whether he should play is likely only to be taken on Thursday.

If Pollock is again counted out, Andrew Hall will replace him, but, intriguingly, the captaincy might not necessarily go to vice-captain Mark Boucher. Although Boucher has not spoken directly to the selectors, he has indicated that he would not be terribly upset if the captaincy went elsewhere.

The main contenders to assume the leadership of the South African Test team in Pollock's absence would appear to be Neil McKenzie and Cullinan with the latter, even more interestingly, probably the favourite.

Cullinan, a veteran of 70 Test matches, was not taken to Australia partly because he had not fully recovered from knee surgery, but also because of his poor record against Australia. In the wake of four successive Test defeats, this record has now been overlooked and the fact that he captained the South African A team against Australia in Port Elizabeth over the past weekend is a clear indication that he is now firmly back in favour.

The recall is Adams, as selection convener Rushdi Magiet acknowledged, is a gamble. Adams burst into Test cricket six years ago as a teenager with a unique action and while he proved to be a wicket-taker, his lack of consistency counted against him. For all that, he has taken 96 wickets in 34 Tests and the fact that none of the spinners used against Australia this summer have made a significant impact makes Adams probably as good a bet as any.

Boje may count himself unfortunate to be dropped after a Test at the Wanderers, never a ground likely to help finger spinners, but it is difficult to disagree with Magiet when he says that Adams might provide something different.

Pretorius replaces Nel after taking five for 148 against Australia in Port Elizabeth. A wholehearted trier, he occasionally worried the Australian top order with his bounce and while he readily admits that he still has to work on his consistency and variation, he might well prove more effective than Nel whose lack of real pace has again been exposed.

Nantie Hayward, the one South African fast bowler to have worried Australian batsmen this season, has not fully recovered from an ankle injury and was again not considered. The circumstances of Hayward's injury - he was sent back from Australia to rest and the ankle and then damaged it further playing for Eastern Province - indicate a breakdown of communication within the United Cricket Board's medical specialists, but the fact is that he was available for selection for this Test.

There has been some speculation that Gary Kirsten's place might be under threat, but Magiet said that the selectors had full confidence in their openers. He did say, though, that Herschelle Gibbs had been spoken to about his lack of discipline at the crease.

It is also clear that the selectors want Jacques Kallis to bat at three with Cullinan coming in at four and Ashwell Prince at five. McKenzie will take over the number six spot with a brief to shepherd the tail and this order, at least, makes more sense than some of the lineups employed by South Africa this summer.

Neither Graeme Smith nor the unfortunate Jacques Rudolph did not enough in their two outings for the SA A team against Australia to warrant inclusion and it may or may not be significant that at no stage during the announcement of the team was the name of Justin Ontong mentioned, either by Magiet or the media. In what may constitute some sort of unwanted record, he seems to have already become South African cricket's forgotten man.

The team

Shaun Pollock (captain), Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Daryll Cullinan, Ashwell Prince, Neil McKenzie, Mark Boucher, Paul Adams, Makhaya Ntini, Dewald Pretorius. Twelfth man: Andrew Hall Easterns (also back-up all-rounder)