CAPE TOWN – Kagiso Rabada’s availability for the third Test at Newlands has left the Proteas selectors in a quandary.
Although the squad will be reduced ahead of the start of play on Thursday – with Chris Morris and Duanne Olivier sent to their respective franchises – there is uncertainty around the make-up of the bowling attack.
Lungi Ngidi replaced Morné Morkel in the second Test and performed admirably by claiming five wickets in the match, but it seems the Proteas could opt for the experience of Morkel.
Equally, Temba Bavuma could come back into contention in the middle-order after returning to fitness.
“We have 13 in mind. Temba is ready to go again, so the decision is between him and Theunis. Then also a decision between Morné and Lungi, which one will be best suited for the conditions,” Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said at the pre-match press conference at Newlands on Wednesday.
“Lungi bowled really well in the previous game. He has a little toe problem, which is why the consideration is happening between the two of them.
“It is bothering him and keeping him a bit back a little bit. If he is not 100 percent, then it is a very easy decision for us.
“What counts in Morné’s favour is that he is a very fit bowler and can bowl long spells. That’s very important going into this Test match especially, if we only have three seamers and a spinner. We will have the three bowlers who have the biggest tank with regards to bowling a lot of overs.”
Proteas captain @faf1307 spoke to the media ahead of the 3rd #SunfoilTest which starts tomorrow in Cape Town. Here he is discussing the wicket & selection options. #ProteaFire #SAvAUS pic.twitter.com/lcIGyzBwLP
Du Plessis was not too perturbed by the fact that Bavuma has not played since injuring his hand playing for the Cape Cobras in the Momentum One-Day Cup in January.
“It is different for batsmen and bowlers. In an ideal world, I would like a guy to play cricket after an injury – one or two games to get into form or just time in the middle,” the skipper explained.
“But it doesn’t always work like that. Myself as an example, I didn’t have enough time to play a game before the first Test after my injury.
“So it is not always that you get an ideal world. So Temba, yes, has not played cricket but it is more for him on the mental side of things.
“But he has been looking good in the nets for a while, and he is now fully recovered.
“I think as a bowler you have to look at the different individual. Dale (Steyn) is probably on the side of being a little bit more cautious.
“For him, it will be a little bit more important to come back and play a game to get through a four-day game at least, to get through some overs.”
Meanwhile, Australian captain Steve Smith confirmed the visitors will play the same team as in the first two Tests.
Teams For Newlands
South Africa (possible): Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn/Temba Bavuma, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi/Morné Morkel.
Australia: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.