TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
WHICH of Khaya Zondo or Dean Elgar should replace JP Duminy? The question bristles with complexities for SA going into the fourth one-day international against India in Chennai on Thursday.
And that’s before we consider the elephant in the dressingroom: that Elgar is white and Zondo is black – black African to boot – and that Cricket SA have committed themselves to “aggressive transformation”.
Duminy has been ruled out of the last two games of the series with a finger injury and Zondo or Elgar are the likely suspects to replace him.
Zondo, who was originally selected in the T20 squad but who stayed on for the ODIs when Rilee Rossouw was taken out of the mix by a stress fracture, is uncapped.
Elgar has played just five ODIs among his 127 list A games and has not been considered for SA’s last 70 matches in the format.
But, having got the call-up on Monday, he is in India. “Dean arrived this morning; 3am,” Dale Steyn told reporters yesterday. “Typical Dean – he’s already moaning.”
Not about his recent form in the format, surely, having scored 57 and 86 off 59 and 91 balls batting at No. 4 for the Titans this season.
In four innings in 50-over matches on SA A’s tour to India in August, Zondo batted at Nos. 5, 6 and 7 for 154 runs. His highlight was 86 off 60 balls and his lowlight a third-ball duck.
Elgar played in the same series, scoring 28 as an opener and making five and 64 – off 85 balls – batting at No. 4.
Zondo sent down just three overs of off-spin on the SA A tour but Elgar, a slow left-armer, bowled the third-most overs and was second in the averages to Lonwabo Tsotsobe in a list that included Beuran Hendricks, Hardus Viljoen, Mthokozisi Shezi and Eddie Leie.
Even the black and white of it all is not simple. SA have fielded five players of colour in both T20s and all three ODIs in India, one more than their unofficial, self-imposed quota.
However, by default if not by design, Zondo is the spare batsman in the squad. What will SA be saying if Elgar, who has earned his international keep in another format, plays instead?
What does it say already that Elgar has been put on a plane well before he was due to arrive with the test squad?
And all that with SA needing one more win to clinch a bilateral ODI series in India for the first time in five attempts.
The visitors have performed impressively nervelessly in India to win four of their five completed matches.
But that wasn’t good enough for Steyn: “If we’d played proper cricket we would have already sealed it; done and dusted.”
He was as forthright when asked, with irritating myopia he did well to ignore, his opinion of India’s captain.
“I don’t have any comment on Dhoni as a captain because I have never played under him. I don’t think MS is doing anything too differently. He is just playing against a team playing really good cricket and you can’t underestimate that.”
If only the question of who should replace Duminy was that simple to answer.