Zondi’s Proteas Test captain Hashim Amla will be wearing the whites of the Cobras for the first time this week. Along with Amla, fellow national Test players Stiaan van Zyl, JP Duminy and Dane Piedt will also be in the Cobras line-up. Likewise the Knights will also have recent Test call-up Rilee Rossouw and South Africa A opening batsman Reeza Hendricks in their team.
Besides off-spinner Piedt, who will most likely be using the match to get some more match practise in before the Test squad joins up for the Boxing Day Test in Durban in a fortnight, it is an important weekend for all the batsmen concerned.
Amla and Duminy have just returned from a lean tour of India where they averaged 16.83 and 10.62 respectively, while Van Zyl too endured a miserable maiden Test tour to India. The makeshift opener managed just 56 runs in three Tests at a dismal average of 11.20 and was subsequently dropped for the final match in Delhi for Lions batsman Temba Bavuma.
Zondi’s selection panel have, though, entrusted Van Zyl with the opening spot for the first two Tests of the upcoming England series, claiming “we want him to have more of a run in conditions familiar to him.” Bavuma, meanwhile, will return to his regular middle-order slot for the England series.
Amla will no doubt just be seeking some time at the crease to rediscover that famous fluid batting style on conditions that he can trust. The pitches in India were sub-standard – especially in Mohali and Nagpur – to say the least, which denied the batsmen the opportunity to score runs freely.
Duminy is also in need of a major confidence-booster. The stylish left-hander has struggled with major injuries recently – he missed the first Test in Mohali – which have set his Test career back alarmingly. Although still an integral part of the Proteas one-day international and T20 teams, the world’s No 1 Test unit requires greater and more consistent contributions from one of their most experienced players.
With Faf du Plessis having moved back down the batting order to accommodate Amla’s return to the all-important No 3 position, Duminy and Du Plessis need to be the spine of the Proteas middle-order.
The two young Knights batsmen, Rossouw and Hendricks, also have lots to play for at Newlands. Both are regarded as prodigiously talented with big futures with the national team ahead of them.
Hendricks, in particular, who travelled with the Test squad to Bangladesh without being granted a debut, will view this as an ideal opportunity to show the selectors the value of a genuine opener in first-class cricket.
The 26-year-old batsman will have another opportunity to set out his stall when he plays for the SA A side next week against the tourists, but runs against a quality Cobras bowling attack under the watchful eye of Test captain Amla standing at slip will no doubt be a shot in the arm for his national aspirations. - Cape TimesProteas captain Hashim Amla had a miserable time with the bat in the recently completed series against India.
Original source: Amla’s chance to rediscover form