Opinion: Phehlukwayo before Parnell, please

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Jonhenry Wilson got his wish as Andile Phelukwayo cracked the nod ahead of Wayne Parnell for South Africa's first Test against Bangladesh. 


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Heino Kuhn can definitely feel hard done by after being dropped from the Test squad for the series opener against Bangladesh. He was afforded just one series against arguably the best seam attack in the longest form of the international game, in conditions which even Alastair Cook acknowledged were difficult for batsmen.

Aiden Markram, meanwhile, will replace Kuhn against opposition out of their depth away from home, on surfaces not conducive to the rank turners they're used to. The timing of Markram's call-up is far more favourable than the one received by Kuhn a couple of months ago. The selections could comfortably have gone the other way, with the 33-year-old forging ahead and the 22-year-old held in the wings.

While one can't begrudge Wayne Parnell's recall, given his left-arm variation in an attack that has seemed quite samey lately, I would like to see Andile Phehlukwayo given a go in Potchefstroom. It doesn't actually have to be one or the other, if the Proteas look to bolster their batting in the absence of the injured Chris Morris and Vernon Philander. Duanne Olivier, then, must make way.

In terms of Parnell versus Phehlukwayo, a brains trust eager to balance immediate needs with those of the future should be all but banking on a 21-year-old with plenty of talent and x-factor than reinvesting in a 28-year-old who has only played five Tests in seven years. Phehlukwayo, too, has recent first-class experience for South Africa A and the Dolphins, while Parnell has been confined to Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean Premier League.

Much has been made of Bangladesh's drawn series with Australia relatively recently, but that was in Chittagong and surrounds, not the foreign fields of Senwes Park and Bloemfontein's Mangaung Oval. They should not pose a real threat - and South Africa must win, easily, to set a precedent for the forthcoming season. Their efforts against Bangladesh's spinners, ahead of India's arrival, must be exemplary.

Potchefstroom will bring another chance to settle the positions of Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma. While their middle-order moves in England were made in necessity, late September and October should prove more easy going, yielding enough time and leeway for them to genuinely forge a niche after the openers and Hashim Amla at three.

This series will be Ottis Gibson's first as head coach of the Proteas. His pre-tenure talk has revolved a lot around limited-overs cricket - and setting the team on course for World Cup glory. He has also acknowledged the pressure that comes with being the first foreign coach since Bob Woolmer - and will have to quickly gain the confidence of a country that largely expected a homegrown, political appointment to succeed Russell Domingo.



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