Oh, to be a national selector. It's the job everybody says they can do but nobody really wants. On one hand, its the ultimate cricketing power trip, choosing who will play and who will not; on the other, its a job that can be lost simply by doing it because picking someone does not guarantee they will perform well enough to justify their place. And even if the players do meet expectations, selectors are dispensable. Just ask Linda Zondi.
South Africa's former convener of selectors was let go in the post-World Cup cleanout, despite being widely praised for his picks over his four-year tenure. Under Zondi, Kagiso Rabada debuted, Keshav Maharaj became the team's premier spinner and a host of talented youngsters such as Lungi Ngidi and Aiden Markram made their debuts. But, there's no space for Zondi in the new structure and South Africa went to India without any officially appointed selectors and some would argue that it shows. ESPNcricinfo decided to help them out. Here's a look at four players South Africa could have considered for the India Tests and may want to look at for the home series against England:
South Africa are still trying to find the right balance for their XI, which currently includes six specialist batsmen and five bowlers. The allrounder roles have fallen to Vernon Philander, Maharaj and Senuran Muthusamy, all of whom have been more impressive with bat than ball, and that's where Mulder could come in. The 21-year old has played just one Test, against Sri Lanka last year, but should come into consideration for many more. He offers more pace than Philander and comes with a strong batting record. He was the leading run-scorer in the unofficial Test series between South Africa A and India A, where he scored a century in Mysuru and has a first-class average of 38.84.
After his impressive transition from the franchise system to the International stage at the 2019 World Cup, where he was second to du Plessis on South Africa's run charts, van der Dussen has earned a lot of praise for his temperament. He is 30, has had more than a decade in the domestic game and has a first-class average of 43.48, which includes 15 centuries. Van der Dussen stayed with the Test team after playing the T20s, leading to speculation he would be added to the squad but was sent home to play franchise cricket after the first Test. He scored 68 and 1 for the Lions in their clash against the Warriors this week and if he can find consistency over the next few rounds, expect to see him in the mix against England.
With Ngidi still searching for Test match fitness, South Africa could have used another option in the fast-bowling department, especially to give Rabada a break. That's where Lutho Sipamla could come in. He is only 21 but has already established himself as a key part of his franchise's attack and currently leads the first-class wicket table with 12 wickets at 19.75, including eight from this week's fixture. Given the concerns South Africa have about their domestic depth, Sipamla will be one to keep an eye on as the season progressed.
Heinrich Klaasen is the back-up wicket-keeper batsman in the squad - and is likely to play in Ranchi - but South Africa could do worse than to have options. That's where Verreynne comes in. He has a first-class average of 48.74 and while it must be remembered that a lot of his runs came at the lower, provincial, rather than franchise level, he is still one to be watched. It helps that he piled 155 in the Cobras ongoing fixture against the Titans and has been hailed by his coach, Ashwell Prince, as a future star.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent