Mon, 14 Jun 2021

  • Proteas captain Dean Elgar isn't too fussed by the possibility of fielding two debutants for the first Test against the West Indies on Thursday in St Lucia.
  • Keegan Petersen is in line for a Test debut as Faf du Plessis's replacement while Kyle Verreynne could make his bow if Temba Bavuma isn't passed fit.
  • The Test will be SA's first in the Caribbean in 11 years and the first at the ground.

The prospect of fielding two debutants for the second time since Boxing Day in 2019 is a difficult one to fathom, but one that Proteas captain Dean Elgar is bracing himself for.

With Faf du Plessis having stepped away from the red-ball format, Keegan Petersen has stepped up as the next batting cab out of the rank.

In the event of vice-captain Temba Bavuma not proving his fitness from a hip impingement in time for Thursday's first Test against the West Indies in St Lucia, Kyle Verreyenne may have to step up for his Test debut too.

That's something Elgar, whose Test debut back in 2012 against Australia saw him collect a pair against the fire and brimstone of Mitchell Johnson in Perth, is very much ready for.

The last time SA played two debutants in the same Test, which was against England at SuperSport Park in December 2019, they won by 107 runs.

One of them in Rassie van der Dussen not only scored an assured 51, but has become a fixture in the Test side.

The other in Dwaine Pretorius has been struggling with injury.

"I don't think we have an option as all of our back-up batters haven't played yet, so there's the possibility of two guys making their debuts if Temba is not fit," Elgar said.

"Those are the cards that we've been dealt with and the guys are prepared.

"Maybe it's not a bad thing having the younger guys coming in at the moment because they are hungry."

The Test will be South Africa's first red-ball outing at the ground, while they've played two internationals there that they didn't win.

In the 2007 Cricket World Cup semi-finals, they were soundly beaten by Australia while they lost to Pakistan in the 2010 T20 World Cup.

Covid-19 restrictions mean SA go into the Test, their first one in the West Indies since the third Test of 2010 at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, without a proper first-class hit out.

Elgar said their preparation conditions at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground may differ from what they'll experience for the Test where the hosts are set to unleash promising 19-year-old fast bowler Jayden Seales.

"We've been told the ground can be seamer-friendly, but when you apply yourself, you can get in and score runs," Elgar said.

"It was quite the challenge in our two-day game when we played on the side-strip with a slope that our bowlers fully maximised. It was overcast and we played with the Dukes ball.

"We were pushed to the extremes, but that gave us a lot of food for thought, but for the Test, the wicket seems pretty flat. There could be rewards for batters and bowlers."

Source: News24

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