There are rumours, unsubstantiated I might add, doing the rounds that Proteas’ coach Mark Boucher is considering going into the third test with an all-seam attack, replacing struggling Keshav Maharaj with Dane Paterson.
If the rumours are true and that selection change materialises, I would have to say that it would be a mistake that could cost the Proteas the series.
Firstly, St George’s is a notoriously slower pitch that will certainly accommodate spin toward the latter stages of a test match. This is a compulsory commodity to have in your armoury in a test in PE. While England have some part time spinners who can do the job, South Africa don’t.
Yes, Maharaj has been off form for a while now and is lacking in confidence. Yes, the likes of Ben Stokes have taken a liking to him in this series and yes he has not offered anything with the bat – something that is desperately needed in the Proteas’ set up. But sacrificing spin for Dane Paterson?? This is no disrespect to Paterson but it would be the wrong place and the wrong time to give him his debut.
It is also worth noting that Paterson has a first class average of 12 so he would most likely slot straight into the no. 11 batting position. Can the Proteas really afford to lengthen their tail when the top 6 or 7 are struggling to get the business done? I think not.
If Maharaj was to be given a break to get his form back, then George Linde would surely be the next best candidate. After all, he performed admirably when called up in India taking 4 wickets and making 67 runs when everyone else was struggling around him. The problem is that he was surprisingly not called up to the squad for this series and importantly it would potentially negatively impact the transformation targets within the team.
IMO that issue could have been resolved by picking Andile Phehlukwayo over Dwaine Pretorius but that hasn’t happened. Pretorius didn’t offer much with bat or ball in the second test so he will really need to up his game to keep his place for the 4th test. Perhaps the thinking is that he is a little more economical in his bowling than Pretorius and also can be a little reckless with the bat at times to be considered seriously as a test all rounder.
Maharaj is the only spinner in the squad – probably in a move to give him confidence … it hasn’t worked yet.
So it’s either spin or no spin.
It HAS to be spin.