Starting hitter Sarel Erwee, goalie-hitter Kyle Verreynne and mid-pace running back Glenton Stuurman have received opening calls to the South African test team for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka. South Africa will be captained by Quinton de Kock, who has been appointed in temporary capacity for the summer of 2021-21. However, they will not have top-line closer Kagiso Rabada or all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, who are injured.
Pretorius was ruled out of the recent white-ball series against England with a hamstring problem, while Rabada suffered a groin strain during the T20I. Although a CSA statement said both would be evaluated in the next few days to determine whether they could be added to the team, the selection coordinator, Victor Mpitsang, had less hope.
“The concern revolves around workloads. For now, they (Rabada and Pretorius) are not available for the Sri Lanka tour, but hopefully they are ready for the Pakistan series,” Victor Mptisang told ESPNcricinfo. , coordinator of selectors.
Importantly, Mpitsang would like both players to participate in the national red ball cricket before joining the test team. Pretorius is expected to play in a four-day game for the Lions beginning Monday, December 13, while Rabada should be in shape for the following week’s game, which begins December 20. The South African team will enter their bios-ecure bubble at Irene Country Club on December 19, which means that Rabada, especially, could be too late to join them for the festive tryouts.
However, they will not look to add reinforcements to their spinning department, where Keshav Maharaj remains the first choice. George Linde, who was the second-highest number of carriers in last season’s four-day competition, and Tabraiz Shamsi, who topped the list before he was needed for international service this summer, will have to wait for the tour of January for Pakistan to get his chance. “They are both there and around, but if you look at where we are playing this series, we will fight to get two spinners on our team in Johannesburg and Centurion,” said Mpitsang. “Under our conditions, Keshav will do the job.”
On the batting front, Mpitsang confirmed that Aiden Markram will return to the top of the order after missing most of last summer with a hand injury. Markram leads the national race scorers list, with three hundred in his last three innings, and displaces Pieter Malan, who has not been included in the team at all. Instead, it included Dolphins starter Erwee, who is 47 runs behind Markram. “Pieter Malan is unlucky to have lost because of what he had done against England, but Aiden Markram lost against England and we have seen the extraordinary form he has been in. He just comes back,” said Mpitsang. “The replacement will be Sarel Erwee, who has been very good in the past. It shows that when you do well in the domestic structure, you will be rewarded.”
Markram will also be closely watched as a potential permanent Test captain, a position to be filled prior to the 2021-22 season. “Aiden has always been a designated captain, but we will reevaluate him after the season,” said Mpitsang. “There is a good group of leadership for now, with Rassie and Temba, and it is about getting them to stay stable in the team.”
Bavuma only played one Test last season after being eliminated and will need consistent performances to cement his place. He will hit in the top five, which is reinforced by the experience of Faf du Plessis, who remains available for the national team despite leaving the captaincy, and Rassie van der Dussen, with Keegan Petersen probably as a reserve. Petersen, who ranks fourth on the national race charts this season, has been preferred over Zubayr Hamza and Theunis de Bruyn. Verreyne, who is also a wicketkeeper, is the other hitting option, and he could debut as a specialized hitter or to relieve De Kock of the gloves.
The series will be South Africa’s first since the coronavirus pandemic and third at the World Testing Championship. They are eighth in the WTC table, with a win and 24 points, and while their chances of qualifying for the final are slim, they have seven rounds this summer to work their way to a more respectable position. They will be cautious, however, knowing that the last time Sri Lanka was on their shores, in the 2018-19 season, they became the first team from the subcontinent to win a series in South Africa.
Sri Lankan test equipment: Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Beuran Hendricks, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Sarel Erwee, Anrich Nortje, Glenton Stuurman, Wiaan Mulder, Keegan Petersen , Kyle Verreynne
Firdose Moonda is a correspondent for ESPNcricinfo in South Africa