Proteas begin life without Jacques Kallis

30 January 2014

South Africa’s cricket selectors on Wednesday named all-rounders Wayne Parnell and Ryan Mclaren in a 15-man squad for the forthcoming three-test series against Australia, which begins at SuperSport Park in Centurion outside Pretoria on 12 February.

With the great Jacques Kallis having retired from test cricket, the biggest question surrounding the Proteas’ line-up has been about how to replace him. While doing that properly is, frankly, impossible, the selectors did the expected by naming Mclaren and Parnell in the line-up.

Limited test experience

Parnell has previously played in three tests, while McLaren has appeared in just one match, ironically with Parnell in January 2010 at The Wanderers where Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel spearheaded South Africa to victory by an innings and 74 runs over England.

McLaren boasts a superior first class record to Parnell, averaging 30.63 with the bat to Parnell’s 22.34 and 25.47 with the ball to Parnell’s 32.94. However, McLaren, at just shy of 31 years of age, is over seven years older than his fellow all-rounder.

What those figures reveal very clearly is that neither man will be able to come any near to emulating Kallis with the bat. However, they may be able to match him with the ball.

Three other players in the squad are in a similar class of all-rounder, with off-spinner and left-handed batsman JP Duminy offering more with the bat than the others. Robin Peterson brings the option of left-arm spin and a left-handed batsman, while Vernon Philander, the world’s number one ranked test bowler, has shown on a number of occasions that he is more than useful with a bat in his hands.

‘We’re not looking for another Jacques Kallis’

In an interview with ESPN Cricinfo’s Firdose Moonda, Proteas’ coach Russell Domingo explained: “The mental shift is going to be just as important as the statistical shift. We’re not looking for another Jacques Kallis. We’re looking for someone to step up to the plate.”

Underlining the hole that Kallis has left, he added: “It’s not going to be a set strategy like we had in the past. Something’s got to give. Either we will have four seamers, no spinner or only six batters.”

‘We want to stay constant’

“We want to stay constant to the brand of cricket we have played over the last few years that has brought us such success,” Cricket South Africa selection convener Andrew Hudson said in a statement.

“I believe that this squad covers all possible options we may wish to exercise, as well as the conditions we are likely to encounter.”

With an eye to the future, Hudson added: “Two other players, Beuran Hendricks and Simon Harmer, will be joining the squad to assist with the preparation leading into the first test match.

“They are both highly talented cricketers who will benefit from being introduced to the Proteas environment. They also possess individual skills that will assist the team with their preparation for the Australian attack we are likely to face.”

SOUTH AFRICA TEST SQUAD

Graeme Smith (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, capt), Hashim Amla (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), AB de Villiers (Nashua Titans), JP Duminy (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Faf du Plessis (Nashua Titans), Dean Elgar (Chevrolet Knights), Rory Kleinveldt (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Ryan McLaren (Chevrolet Knights), Morne Morkel (Nashua Titans), Wayne Parnell (Chevrolet Warriors), Alviro Petersen (bizhub Highveld Lions), Robbie Peterson (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Vernon Philander (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Dale Steyn (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Thami Tsolekile (bizhub Highveld Lions)