Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
3 minute read
2 Jan 2022
9:55 am

Proteas batting lineup: Is there space for both Verreynne and Rickelton?

Ken Borland

It is now the visitors who are pushing a formidable fast bowling department into action in South Africa.

Will Ryan Rickelton, the rookie Proteas batsman, get a debut against India in the second Test at the Wanderers? Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

It was in December 2013 ahead of a Test against India at the Wanderers that former Proteas coach Russell Domingo spoke about the DNA of South African and Indian teams and how pace bowling was the strength of the home side and the weakness of the subcontinent team.

“They have always had issues playing pace in South Africa and that is what history shows. It is a South African strength. It is the way that we were brought up playing cricket,” Domingo said.

“Subcontinent sides will always turn to spin and South Africans will turn to pace because that is in our DNA. Having a four-pronged pace attack is important for us against a country like India in our conditions.”

An epic Test match followed in which India dominated the South African bowling, Virat Kohli scoring 119 and 96 and Cheteshwar Pujara confirming his pedigree as a special player with 153, his first century overseas. An incredible final innings saw the Proteas flirt with chasing down 458, before settling for a noble draw on 450/7.

ALSO READ: Kohli’s India eye historic series victory against South Africa

Although South Africa then won in Durban to win the two-match series, India had shown they were on the brink of rustling up a pace attack fit to compare with any in the world. When they returned to the Wanderers in 2018, they beat the Proteas by 63 runs with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami both getting five-wicket hauls.

Now the tourists are back at a venue where South Africa have not been able to beat them in five attempts, India actually winning at the Bullring in 2006 and 2018. And India showed in the first Test at Centurion which ended just days ago just how wonderful their current pace attack is, and it is the Proteas batsmen who have the issues trying to handle the heat.

Out-bowled as well as out-batted at SuperSport Park, South Africa may well consider playing an all-pace attack at the Wanderers; with Quinton de Kock already having to be replaced, Duanne Olivier coming in for spinner Keshav Maharaj as the only change would be the least disruptive selection.

ALSO READ: Second Test v India: Selectors have plenty options

But Maharaj is an important leader in the team and captain Dean Elgar has spoken of his reluctance not to have him in his XI.

As much as Marco Jansen has shown he can deliver useful runs as a batsman, No 7 is surely too high for him at this fledgling stage of his career, so South Africa will have to choose between having four frontline seamers and an all-rounder (Wiaan Mulder) at 7, three specialist pacemen, a spinner and an all-rounder, or just four bowlers, including Maharaj, and an extra specialist batsman.

Needing to deliver a win at the Wanderers to maintain their hopes of winning the series, the Proteas should perhaps put the responsibility of bowling much better than they did on the first day of the first Test, and getting 20 wickets, on four bowlers and thereby strengthening the fragile batting with someone like Ryan Rickelton coming in at No 7.

Kyle Verreynne is likely to replace De Kock at No 6 and the uncapped Rickelton, who is a top-order batsman for the Central Gauteng Lions, has scored centuries in his previous two innings at the Wanderers.