Qantas Tour of South Africa
Proteas undecided on Durban XI
Skipper Faf du Plessis says home side is still weighing up their team balance for the series opener
Sam Ferris in Durban
28 February 2018, 11:21 PM AEST
South Africa will delay naming their XI for the first Test until the coin toss, captain Faf du Plessis confirmed on Wednesday.
Du Plessis confirmed middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma has failed to recover from a hand injury and will not play, but the main decision the Proteas are tossing up is whether they play four or five specialist bowlers.
In the three-match India series, South Africa picked five bowlers and batted wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock at No.6, with Vernon Philander slotting in at No.7.
But against Australia’s dominant bowling attack, the Proteas are considering bolstering their batting stocks given de Kock averaged just 12 and Philander 16 against India.
If the Proteas do in fact go down that route, it appears 25-year-old Theunis de Bruyn could be the player to come in for one of the fast bowlers, most likely boom youngster Lungi Ngidi.
De Bruyn has played three Tests, all in 2017, and owns a first-class batting average of 47 and has taken 11 wickets in 49 appearances with his right-arm medium pacers.
He didn’t bowl in Australia’s three-day tour match in Benoni but made an impressive 46 from 43 balls with nine boundaries before he was given out caught at gully - much to his disappointment - from the bowling of Josh Halzewood.
Du Plessis said on match eve playing an extra batsmen is very much part of the Proteas thinking, not just for the first Test but the entire series.
“When you play seven batsmen you’ve got three seamers and a spinner, which leaves you a touch on the thin side with the bowling,” de Plessis said.
“And the fact that Theunis does have that (bowling) as a backup pushes him into the right direction as an option.
“You also look at the opposition you play.
“When we played against India we felt it was important to try and make sure we can use our pace to put them under pressure and that’s why someone like Kesh (spinner Keshav Maharaj) probably didn’t play a big a role as he thought he did because the conditions didn’t suit that.”
Du Plessis has been battling a finger injury in the lead-up to the first Test and has been limited in practice, but said he’s good to go.
“I’ve played with finger injuries before,” he said.
“I think the biggest battle you have to get over is the mental side of things.
“I’ve had three good nets over the last three days just hitting a lot of balls.
“The biggest thing is to mentally prepare to be ready for the battle and I’m ready for that.”
Possible South Africa XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Theunis de Bruyn, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5. Live coverage
Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13. Live coverage
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage