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Behind the SA Test squad touring Bangladesh

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South_Africa_Bangladesh_series_Test_ODI_T20I_cricketSince the release of the squads, three things jump out:

i)    The 15-man squad does not include One Day International skipper AB de Villiers.
ii)   The selectors tried to turn it into a young squad even though the average age is 28.
iii)  There is a slight increase in the number of black Africans in the squad.

Firstly, the Proteas will be without AB de Villiers who has been granted paternity leave awaiting the birth of his first child. He will miss the chance to become the first man to play 100 consecutive Tests from debut, falling two matches short of the milestone. He does, however, still hold the record for most successive Tests since debut.

Secondly, a couple of the guys are relatively young. They may not be as young as the current England Test squad, but three players are 25 and below, while majority are above 30. There are two ways to look at it. Players are not necessarily being rested. Instead, introducing younger players is a ploy to groom them for the day the senior players decide to hang up their boots. This is to avoid a crisis similar to the one South Africa faced when Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith retired.

The Test squad includes four uncapped players who will likely play in the two-match series. They are Reeza Hendricks, Dane Vilas, Aaron Phangiso, and Kagiso Rabada.

Lastly, one thing is certainly clear; there is an increase in black African players in the squad. When compared to the squad selected to play the West Indies, regardless of there being one extra player, this squad has seven black African players. Quotas are more prominent now than ever before and the Test squad has revealed the future of the South African cricket team.

 

There will always be a demand for merit based selection in the cricket teams, but although quotas are in play, sometimes merit based selection also figures into the quota equations.

South Africa pressed the right buttons with this new look squad, but one or two selections are questionable.

Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander may not have a lot of steam left in them, so bringing Rabada into the team adds to the bowling attack. Young Rabada has proven to be more than a limited overs guy and has proven it in assisting the Lions attain the Sunfoil Series title. He may not have been the leading wicket taker but he took 39 wickets.

The Test matches will be the first South Africa will play since Alviro Petersen’s retirement. However, he could be replaced by Knights opening batsman Hendricks or Stiaan van Zyl, if de Kock is pushed down the order. Hendricks is also a good partnership builder and has been involved in match changing partnerships. No butter fingers here, Hendricks can keep a ball safe in his hands.

In a recent radio show where quotas were discussed, a few listeners said Bavuma was not given enough time to prove he should be in the international Test squad. They also pointed out how Rilee Rossouw had a string of ducks, but remained in the side because he was in the starting XI, so he was likely to get an extended chance. This can be seen as a lifeline for Bavuma to score those runs we know he has under his belt.

However, nothing screams out quotas more than the inclusion of Phangiso in the Test squad. He does not play in the Sunfoil Series, yet he is included in the international Test squad. Eddie Leie who was put into the T20 squad is a better choice as spinner in the Test series, rather than Phangiso. It can be said he is a spin option but his inclusion can be up for debate.

Bangladesh is pushing for more glory and wants to be mentioned in the highest regard with the top Test ranked teams. However, South Africa would not have played a Test match in 5 months when they face Bangladesh and have not lost a match in over a year. The new look South Africa better bring their A game because Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al Hasan and the rest of the Bangladesh squad will be looking to exploit the South Africans in the Test matches.

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Thobeka ‘Beks’ Ngema. A cricket and football blogger who fell in love with both sports but event...

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