Cricket: Proteas transition good and bad for NZ

By David Leggat

Dale Steyn.
Dale Steyn.

South Africa will be guided by new player selection guidelines in their two-test series against New Zealand starting at Durban this month.

Cricket South Africa has confirmed that, by arrangement with the country's sports ministry, at least six of the starting XI to face New Zealand must be deemed either black or coloured players.

Add in that influential captain AB de Villiers and formidable seamer Morne Morkel are both ruled out by injury, and South Africa might be more vulnerable than at first glance.

De Villiers has an elbow injury and will miss his first tests since his debut in 2004; Morkel has a bulging disc in his back and is out of action for at least four weeks.

On the flipside, fast bowling great Dale Steyn and seam maestro Vernon Philander return after length layoffs.

Faf du Plessis stands in as captain for de Villiers, and while de Villiers has an outstanding record - averaging 50.46 in 106 tests - New Zealand have fared well against him.

He averages 'only' 39 in 10 tests against New Zealand.

By contrast, Steyn, whose battles with groin and shoulder injuries have sidelined him for six of South Africa's last eight tests, has a terrific record against New Zealand.

In 10 tests, he's taken 58 wickets, at 17 apiece. Last time out, three years ago, the hard-nosed quick took 13 wickets in two tests at an astonishing rate of 11 runs each.

Overall his 406 wickets in 82 tests have cost him 22.53 each, statistics which illustrate his standing among the elite of the modern fast bowling exponents.

As for Philander, hindered of late by ankle ligament damage, his return in four tests against New Zealand is 28 wickets at 14 each; 126 at 22 overall in 32 tests.

So in one sense New Zealand have caught a break, but their batsmen have discovered their job just got considerably harder.

"It is most unfortunate that we will not be able to call on two players of the quality and experience of de Villiers and Morkel," convener of selectors Linda Zondi said. "However, we are fortunate to have a capable stand-in captain. With both Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander fit and firing again I am confident we have the players to take on New Zealand."

The series will be South Africa's first since a memorandum of understanding was signed with the South African Government.

It introduces a target on the number of black and coloured players in their teams.

Specific numbers have not been confirmed.

However, Afrikaans-language newspaper Rapport claimed CSA have agreed on six players of colour in every starting XI, of which at least two must be black. In this squad, South Africa have seven players of colour, including two black Africans.

South Africa's squad of 15 has only had A class matches to prepare in the last seven months since facing England.

Fast bowlers Kyle Abbott and Kagiso Rabada has played some county cricket; the rest have been occupied in T20 leagues.

South African squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Stiaan van Zyl, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Dane Piedt, Kagaiso Rabada.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 03 Dec 2016 17:47:43 Processing Time: 1251ms