How quickly things can change. The most successful seam bowling trio in South Africa’s history, having dominated most opponents around the world for two units, is suddenly down to one, and he was missing in the first Test!
Vernon Philander’s ankle roll in training on Thursday means Morne Morkel will lead the attack in the second Test on Saturday with Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott making up the seam attack with JP Duminy and Imran Tahir providing the spin. Unless the team management are conducting a brilliant and convincing bluff campaign, Dale Steyn will remain sidelined with his hamstring strain.
The Proteas are extremely fortunate. Only Australia of the Test playing nations have reserves of such quality. Rabada has not only lived up to expectations in India so far, he has exceeded them. Although the curator at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium has been instructed (sorry, “requested”) to tone down the natural pace and bounce in the pitch, there will be significantly more of both than in Mohali and the new look attack may thrive.
Abbott will only arrive in Bangalore on Friday and is unlikely to have time for a practice session but he has spent a month in the country already and should have no problems acclimatising. I can’t recall being less concerned about the loss of two lynchpin cricketers.
Meanwhile, here in Dhaka I heard one of my favourite AB de Villiers’ stories from former Zimbabwe captain and current Bangladesh bowling coach, Heath Streak whose son, Harry, is AB’s greatest fan. (Him and about 25,000 others.)
Not being in the habit of asking for autographs, Streak felt a little awkward asking AB to sign a cap for him a couple of years ago. “Could you sign it for Harry, please?” said Streak. “My son…he’s mad about you.” De Villiers duly signed it: “To Harry – Go Big!”
Last year, when the Proteas toured Zimbabwe over a year after the cap signing, de Villiers noticed Streak with his wife Nadine and, he assumed, their son. He approached them and headed straight for the boy: “Hello,” he beamed, “you must be Harry! How are you – it’s a pleasure to meet you! I hear you’re a fan of mine…well, that’s good because I’m a big fan of your Dad’s!”
Streak said Harry couldn’t speak for half an hour.
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