Selection convenor Rushdie Magiet arrives in Australia on Monday with more questions facing the team than ever before.
South Africa has a proud record of selection stability but following an embarrassing performance against Western Australia, a humiliating Test defeat by 246 runs in Adelaide and another feeble bowling display against New South Wales, questions are being asked a frantic pace.
Who will bat at number three? Who will bat at number five? Six? Seven? Who will be the fourth member of the seam attack? Can people really, honestly feel ‘happy’ just because Allan Donald completed a second four-day match on tour – without taking any wickets?
Boeta Dippenaar says he wants the job of batting at number three. Since his miserable and swift demise (4 & 0) in Adelaide, his attitude has been sincerely impressive.
“There is no point in beating yourself up. You can’t be successful every day playing this beautiful, horrible game,” he says with a philosophical shrug of the shoulders.
Dippenaar has probably done enough to keep his place in the team, particularly as he is one of the few ‘question mark players’ to put some readable numbers on the board. But he will surely move down the order.
Jacques Kallis is the best number three South Africa have ever had. His move from that position was inspired for honest reasons, to protect him from his likely bowling workload and to stop South Africa’s line-up looking ‘top heavy’ with it’s best three batsmen in the top three. Kallis simply must move back for the must-win Test in Melbourne.
Neil McKenzie should stay at four but Lance Klusener’s wretched form at number six has seen him score just 473 runs in his last 15 Tests at an average of 24.89. And that includes his century against India in Bloemfontein. During the same period, he has taken 18 wickets at 34.83.
Before Klusener is seriously considered for a rest, perhaps he should be returned to his more natural position at number seven. Seasoned Test players will tell you the profound difference it makes to a batsman’s mind batting ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the top six.
Mark Boucher surely has the temperament to bat at six? Then again, most people believed Klusener did. Perhaps Klusener does…maybe it is, in fact, his technique that is being unravelled. Whatever, he will probably slip down the order.
As for Donald, only the master craftsman knows whether he is really fit or not. All was well, apparently, om the third evening of the NSW match when he declared himself fit and raring to go.
On the fourth afternoon, however, he bowled four overs – in two spells – and struggled with his troublesome foot, according to Shaun Pollock.
Rushdie Magiet has a lot of serious work to do. And some very poor work to undo when he arrives.
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