Allan Donald expects a ’bunfight’ for Proteas Test team number 3 spot
JOHANNESBURG - Allan Donald believes there’ll be a “bunfight” for the no.3 spot in the Proteas Test team in the weeks leading up to the first five-day assignment of the summer against Sri Lanka on Boxing Day.
The former fast bowling great, currently the head coach of the Knights franchise, has one of the prime candidates for that spot in his team, and another who he worked with briefly last season, as being among the main contenders. Both Raynard van Tonder, the current occupant of the no.3 spot in the Knights side and Keegan Petersen, previously of the Knights and now playing for the Dolphins, have made big hundreds this season.
Along with Theunis de Bruyn - whose fourth innings century at Newlands in the opening round of the four-day competition, helped the Titans to a narrow victory against the Cape Cobras - the trio are demanding attention as the new selection convenor Victor Mpitsang assesses candidates for the Test batting line-up.
“Having seen Keegan, and a lot of Raynard van Tonder, there is going to be a bunfight for that no.3 spot as the next few weeks unfold,” Donald said on Wednesday.
Although all the attention is currently on the limited overs set-up with England in the country for T20 and One-day Internationals, the focus in the next few weeks will turn to the Test format, with an announcement of the new captain for that team, along with a broader outlook on the identity of the side as it enters a new era.
Crucial to that, will be South Africa’s batting which for too long has been poor. However the early stages of the current season have been encouraging from the domestic batsmen’s perspective. Seven centuries have been scored, with Petersen’s (173 vs the Lions) and Van Tonder’s (166 vs the Dolphins) among the biggest.
“Technically (Petersen) is very sound, he and Raynard share that trait. (Petersen) is a gutsy little player, classy also and there is a real flair aspect to his play,” Donald, who worked as a consultant with the Knights last season, when Petersen was still on the franchise’s books, said.
The no.3 position, along with a couple of other sports has been a real concern for the Proteas since Hashim Amla’s retirement. In the seven Tests played last season, three players occupied the position; De Bruyn did so for two Tests in India, Zubayr Hamza played four Tests there and in the last match against England, Rassie van der Dussen filled the spot, making 98 in the second innings at the Wanderers.
It will be a spot very much up for debate. Donald said Van Tonder insisted on playing there for the Knights this summer, and already he’s made an impression as part of a Knights team, that’s adopted an aggressive approach with the willow.
“I like how he sets up his game, I like that he’s a deep thinker about his game and I really enjoy that he’s very precise about what he wants out of each training session,” Donald said of the 22 year old right hander, who once captained the SA Under-19 side.
“There’s no doubt, that the way he is going...he’ll play for South Africa, it’s just a matter of time. But what his main focus must be right now, is the Knights.”