Graeme Smith called up to help South Africa
Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith has linked up with the South African team as an adviser ahead of the second Test against England which starts at Newlands on Saturday.
“Graeme was a wonderful cricketer for South Africa and a wonderful captain,” said current captain Hashim Amla. Smith will be with the team for the rest of the four-match series.
Amla said Smith’s experience could be important for South Africa’s batsmen, who have managed just three totals of more than 200 in their most recent 10 completed innings.
South Africa will make at least two changes following a crushing 241-run defeat in the first Test in Durban.
Amla announced that Kagiso Rabada will replace the injured Dale Steyn. He also dropped a strong hint that Quinton de Kock would come in as a wicketkeeper and batsman, with AB de Villiers relinquishing the gloves and playing as a specialist batsman.
England, meanwhile, have added James Anderson to the eleven who won in Durban. The fast bowler missed the first Test because of a calf strain. “It’s an interesting call because the number of overs he has bowled on this tour isn’t great and with the heat here it’s going to be a tough Test match,” said captain Alastair Cook.
“You want your best players playing,” said Cook. “If he’s fit and he’s ready and he’s confident he’ll be opening the bowling but we’ve got to make sure he’s right. We don’t want to hinder ourselves and have an injury that we could have prevented.”
Amla said De Kock’s inclusion depended on the selectors. But he added: “If Quinny does come in he will take a load off AB and he has also been in very good form with the bat. If he does play, the selectors will have to decide who they will leave out. It will be a tough decision, whether it is Faf (Du Plessis) or JP (Duminy) because these have been integral guys in our team for many years.”
Fast bowler Kyle Abbott will undergo a fitness test ahead of the match after feeling tightness in his left hamstring at the end of the first Test. If Abbott does not play, he will be replaced by either Chris Morris or Hardus Viljoen, who are both uncapped.
Viljoen, 26, was called up as cover for Abbott. He took 20 wickets in the first two matches of the current season’s first-class campaign for the Lions franchise.
Amla said he was not concerned that Smith, who captained South Africa in 108 Test matches before retiring two years ago, had made some strong criticisms of South Africa’s batting and selections in his capacity as a television commentator during the first Test.
South Africa have not won a Test since last year’s New Year fixture against the West Indies at the same venue.
“When you win or lose a cricket game you are either going to be praised or there is criticism,” said Amla. “That’s just the nature of international sport. When people criticise the team there’s going to be some value in it. You take it on the chin and move on. Wherever there is value that can be added you?ve got to take it.”
Cook said the biggest challenge for England was to find consistency. “2015 was a year when we were up and down a lot,” he said, referring to the Ashes series against Australia, where wins were followed by defeats before England clinched the series 3-2.
“Winning in Durban took a lot out of us,” said Cook. “We came through some tricky situations. There were times when we didn’t get it right bowling and we managed to get it right through absolute determination and skill. It’s about whether we have got the same hunger to do it again. We’ve got to set the same standards we set in Durban.”