JOHANNESBURG – At least two, possibly three debutants could start for the Proteas in the first Test against England at SuperSport Park on Thursday.
South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis confirmed on Tuesday that Rassie van der Dussen would make his first start in whites in place of the injured Temba Bavuma, while Dwaine Pretorius had beat out Andile Phehlukwayo for the all-rounder spot. The decision about who would be the third frontline seamer out of Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje and Dane Paterson would be determined by conditions and should Hendricks or Paterson get the nod, it would mean the Proteas have handed out eight debut caps in the last four Test matches.
Starting Pretorius will provide the team with much-needed balance. “It feels like the make-up of the side needs another bowler, who can give us 10 overs like Ben Stokes and can bat in the top 7,” said Du Plessis. “The focus is runs, he needs to play as a top order batsman, his second role is to bowl.’
Du Plessis has seen Pretorius up close in the last month as a teammate at the Paarl Rocks in the Mzansi Super League, where the 30 year old all-rounder produced some outstanding performances with both bat and ball.
Du Plessis once again paid tribute to the team’s new coaching staff for instilling a more positive environment, although he is aware, that all that talk will mean little if his side don’t start well on Boxing Day. “You’re sitting here now going, ‘why haven’t these guys been here for the last 10 years?’ It’s so important to have people like that in an international dressing room,” said Du Plessis. “If you look around other teams have got that, the Australian team is an example, we played against them and they had Langer, Ponting, Waugh…and we want that, we need that. This is a fresh start.”