An abundance of options has left Proteas coach Gary Kirsten with plenty to smile about, but for fans here the exclusion of yet another crowd favourite will be a bitter pill to swallow.
With Hashim Amla on paternity leave and Jacques Kallis given a break, news that Dale Steyn will be rested for the remainder of the series will not go down well with the fans at the De Beers Diamond Oval on Friday.
Kirsten believes the time is right to give the team’s top bowler some much-needed time off.
“We decided to give Dale a break for the rest of the series,” Kirsten said on Thursday. “This falls in line with our vision of not relying on individuals but rather on a squad of players capable of performing.”
While the coach didn’t name his squad at the press conference, he did say that Wayne Parnell would come in for Steyn. It’s been 10 months since the 22-year-old last competed at this level and with a promising career ahead of him, Kirsten has his sights set on creating a unit where he has no shortage of options.
“Wayne has been working very hard at training and having a player like him gives us a chance to rotate the players.”
Robin Peterson retains his position in the team as the frontline spinner.
The exclusion of Johan Botha has been a topic of hot debate recently, but according to the coach, Botha is taking it in his stride.
“We’re giving Robbie another crack, but Johan has been fantastic about his exclusion. As one of the team’s leaders, he understands that we need to explore all our options and he has handled the situation like a true professional.”
Meanwhile, Graeme Smith’s inconsistent form has been the subject of some criticism but, as skipper AB de Villiers did on Wednesday, Kirsten came to the opener’s defence, revealing that a lot of behind-the-scenes work put in by the Test captain has often gone unnoticed.
“Graeme is going through a lean spell, but what he needs right now is support,” said Kirsten. “With AB still learning the ropes in his position as captain and behind the stumps, Graeme has been incredibly useful.
“As for his batting form, he has been solid in the past and taking these factors into consideration, I think he deserves another opportunity.
“Looking back at my playing days, I’ve been where Graeme is now and he knows that he needs to get a score.”
The coach said that with the series already wrapped up, he has given the players some time off ahead of Friday’s match.
“We made the decision to cancel practice in Kimberley and Johannesburg to give the players a chance to get their minds off cricket. There is a bit of fatigue slipping in and I think it’s often far more valuable to spend time away from training. It’s a decision that we made and I think it is necessary.”
Kirsten warned, though, not to underestimate the visitors.
“Throughout the summer, we have learned that we need to respect the opposition. International teams come here with a lot of national pride and want to do their best for their country.
“But worrying about our opponents is an exercise in futility. What is important is our need to constantly upgrade our skills and become mentally stronger.
“I think at this stage we are well prepared and this will make us difficult to be beaten,” said Kirsten.
Looking ahead, Kirsten is very excited about his options at numbers four, five and six, where the reintroduction of Kallis, as well as a number of others, will leave him spoilt for choice. – The Star
My reason to drop Smith is not just his "on and off" form. It is his attitude toward the game, one of "it owes Me". Smith was forever making excuses for poor performance and ducking the acceptance of responsibility. His ego is not good for the sport. Give the youngsters a chance.
Biffo,any smart person would have figured that out. By the way,I hope you were watching Smith today. He played his part. He did a great job. Do you still say we should drop him? Or are you gonna say we should wait for the next game to see what happens. Smith is a great player
@Anonymous03.16 Wat is an IDIO???????????
You want Smith to change his ODI style? :)
JUST to prove me wrong, smith is going like a steamtrain...49 n.o.
@lifelove, that is exactly my point. There was time when Kallis was not considered ODI material, his strike rate was too low. Guess what, we dropped him.... and @ the time he was still making valuable contributions with the ball and he certainly wasn't giving his wicket away for 2 runs. We dropped Kallis for a short while, he changed his ODI batting style and the rest is history. Don't you think we should "afford" Smith the same opportunity?
@ChillaxCouchPotatoes u seem to be all about stats, well yours are incorrect.... Smith's current averages are considerably lower and ultimately that's what we're all talking about. There have been better batsmen, with higher averages, some of them also made contributions with the ball and yet when they were out of form they were dropped... afforded the opportunity to find their form in the domestic league. What in you opinion makes Smith immune to this otherwise acceptable, very reasonable practice? Maybe if you, AB and Gary got your heads out of Smith's bum long enough to see the wood for the trees you'd be less inclined to be as bias. Then there's the little matter of.... why should SA be sympathetic to someone who's been an arrogant coward, with no regard for SA cricket lovers, who treated us with no disdain and disrespect?
Excuse my language,but anyone who says Smith should be dropped is an IDIO
OK gary, just tell us why you fired Prins. Prins also neede your support, but you fired him. What is the problem with Prins, is he not part of your circle. Oh I nderstand quite good, he is kind of dark in the face.
Smith must know in his head that he is not good enough for ODI's. The ball that got him in the last match would have been blocked by the average school cricketer. Smith's reign over the squad must come to an end so we can move forward. He is a COWBOY...nothing more nothing less.
No I didn't say Smith is Kallis. I just said that the same treatment should be afforded to him. Everyone goes through bad patches. He has qualities that I'm sure Kallis doesn't and vice versa.
@Greg Dolphin,.. EXACTLY... hit the nail on the head.
@Cecilia 08.13... I am a supporter as well, BUT from day ONE I have NEVER been and will NEVER be a smith supporter, he was when he started and he still is an ARROGANT prig!!!
Smith's form is poor at the moment......he couldnt even score in a brothel.
Gary. Smith is a Choker, drop him!!!!
Lol, Smith has a batting avg in tests of 49.42 and ODIs 39.01, over 100 matches respectively. How on Gods earth can you say "drop him", which into todays standards is ecpectional. Every1 goes through ups and down, i.e. AVERAGES SPEAK LOUDEST. Typical couch and glory seakers. Give the guy a break, or otherwise shout up and throw on your whites and show us how its done. Typical SA, bitch, bitch, bitch about everything. He would walk into any team across the world, yet not up to your high SA stds? Like anything in SA is of high stds? Pls, ppl you are *&^&ing dumb, i bet you also rate Kallis should have be dropped a year ago wen going thru his dry spell? And where is Kallis today? no. 1. Gr8 eg is Man Utd, u dont simply chop and change every 5 mins, you stick with them, 19 years as manager, same general team as other spend, spend, spend, there are ups and downs, but still top 5 clubs in world. Where is the logic? AnD try and remember, YOU CANNOT WIN EVERY SINGLE GAME, becos the opposition is very strong nowadays as well!!!!
Leave smith in the team , Kallis , Kirsten , Ponting and ever Lara went through rough patches , Smith will get his form back , wasnt too long ago people were calling for Kallis to be dropped , plus whos going to replace him
Smith weakness has been worked out and he has done nothing to fix it. He should be dropped so that he can fix this weekness
Well said Cecila, wrote
Fickle fickle fickle SA supporters. Nail the team or the guy when they or he doesnt perform, but never come back and apologise for it when they come good. Form is temporary, class is permanent. Biff needs game time to come good, as did Kallis which all of you were screaming to be dropped, but now hes your darling again. Get a grip.
What a crock of nonsense!! How much support did Shaun Pollock get when he was captain and had an 'off' season? Or Gibbs or Boucher when they were off form?? All three were dropped like hot cakes until they improved!! So why not Smith? Kirsten says "he's going through a tough time" - why - trouble in paradise already? Is that why he's so off form? He is the laughing stock of SA cricket and should not be on the field irrespective of how he does in the last two ODI's!