TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SO you want to be a selector. Right – here are the most pressing items on your agenda for your meeting on Thursday to pick the squad for the test series against Sri Lanka later this month.
You probably won’t know by the time your meeting ends whether AB de Villiers will be cleared to play in a T20 game for the Titans on Sunday.
Which means you will have no idea whether he will have recovered from his elbow surgery well enough to be named in the test squad.
Also, Faf du Plessis will be banned from playing in the first test, in Port Elizabeth on December 26, if he fails in his appeal against his conviction for ball-tampering during the second test against Australia in Hobart last month.
You won’t know whether that has happened until after his hearing on December 19. Unless, of course, he withdraws his appeal. That is also unlikely to happen before your meeting.
Don’t think of filling either of those vacancies, which of course do not yet exist, with Rilee Rossouw, your spare batsman in Australia. He’s out for up to six weeks with a foot injury.
One more thing: you need to come up with a plan to fit cricket’s most devastating batsman, De Villiers – assuming he is fit – into a side that emerged from a slump at exactly the time that he was forced out by his gammy elbow.
Oh, and don’t forget to justify why De Villiers, the appointed captain, or Du Plessis, the captain who has been outrageously successful in De Villiers’ absence, will lead the team against Sri Lanka.
And if you plump for De Villiers best you also come up with a way to keep everyone happy for the second test, by which time Du Plessis will have served his ban.
Onto more minor matters. Hashim Amla has a neck problem and Quinton de Kock is battling a virus. Both issues should have resolved themselves by December 26 but you can never be sure with these things, so keep that in mind.
Remember that Dale Steyn’s shoulder is still crocked and that Morne Morkel’s back continues to trouble him.
Taking into account all of the above, feel free to make any changes you deem necessary to the squad that returned in triumph from Australia.
Of course, if you choose to do so you will be selecting players for test matches on the basis of their performances in franchise T20 cricket. Can’t be that hard, surely.
Naturally we don’t have to remind you of the importance of balancing your transformation books.
That’s about it. Good luck.
Selection convenor Linda Zondi and colleagues Hussein Manack, Errol Stewart and Lux Qoboshiyana have shown foresight and backbone in their tenure as a panel.
They backed Rossouw ahead of Amla in the one-day series against Australia in October, and Rossouw – an injury replacement for De Villiers – ended up as the leading run-scorer in the rubber.
They put their faith in Andile Phehlukwayo, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, none of whom disappointed.
But Thursday’s meeting, all things considered, could be their most challenging yet.