CAPE TOWN - Wayne Parnell played in the final Test of the previous home season. In fact, he opened the bowling in the first innings at the Wanderers and returned match figures of 6/89, including 4/51 to drive the Proteas to an emphatic innings and 111-run victory over Sri Lanka.
Parnell has not played a Test since. He was part of the squad to New Zealand, but did not feature in the three matches against the Black Caps before being dropped entirely for the four-match series in England.
Morne Morkel’s return to fitness, and subsequently the Proteas Test XI, has obviously played a part in Parnell’s lack of opportunity, but the 28-year-old does find himself in a bit of a quandary ahead of the first Test of this summer against Bangladesh at the end of the month.
“Coming into this series against Bangladesh, I am not sure where I fit into that. Not sure of what’s going to happen there. Why I was left out of the England squad, I also don’t know there is a new coach now also, so we need to see how it unfolds,” Parnell said.
It certainly is an interesting scenario with both Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn unlikely to form part of the new Proteas coach Ottis Gibson’s plans for the Bangladesh series, due to injury. This leaves Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier and all-rounder Chris Morris as the leading candidates to share the pace-bowling duties.
Neither Olivier or Morris were entirely convincing in England, with the latter particularly inconsistent.
In fact, it is a trait that Parnell shares with Morris as both all-rounders have a tendency to switch between the sublime and mediocre within a couple of matches. The major difference, however, being that Parnell averages 26.89 per Test wicket compared to Morris’ bloated 38.25.
Gibson arrives in South Africa on Monday and will monitor the first-round of Sunfoil Series matches, whereafter convener of selectors Linda Zondi will announce the squad for the Bangladesh Test series. Both Parnell and Morris will be in action for their franchises, the Cape Cobras and Titans respectively, and will no doubt be monitored closely.
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Despite opting to not play for South Africa A in the recent limited-overs triangular against India A and Afghanistan A, Parnell has had plenty of gametime coming into the Sunfoil Series. He was once again an integral part of the Barbados Tridents squad in the Caribbean Premier League and is “physically and mentally ready” for the new domestic season.
“Personally, I felt 50-over games weren’t really going to benefit me. I felt that playing in a T20 competition against international cricketers from all over the world would benefit my game more. Obviously, going back there after doing well for them last year, I just wanted to replicate that and challenge myself against proper opposition and playing in front of decent crowds as well,” Parnell explained.
“I am feeling good, feeling strong. I’ve put a lot of work in at the gym while I was in the Caribbean. Most people have probably seen me chilling on the beach on my off-days, but that was after putting in three/four hours of training. I am looking forward to starting with the Sunfoil Series this week.”