Opinion: First Phehlukwayo, now Paterson before Parnell, please

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

The ongoing absence of Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Dale Steyn - and now Morne Morkel - has forced the Proteas to take a quicker, deeper look at their pace-bowling bench strength.

High hopes were held for Kyle Abbott, Marchant de Lange and Hardus Viljoen. But they've all signed Kolpak deals - and are entirely out the picture for the foreseeable future.

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Andile Phehlukwayo - and now Dane Paterson - have since jumped the queue. Junior Dala and/or Beuran Hendricks will probably follow, eventually. South Africa were right in playing Phehlukwayo ahead of Wayne Parnell in the first Test against Bangladesh. Here's hoping they afford Paterson the same trust for the second.

Picking Parnell ahead of Paterson, of course, would lengthen the batting order. However, that really shouldn't be a requirement in Bloemfontein, where conditions for batting should be - more or less - as straightforward as they were in Potchefstroom.

Paterson endured a rough introduction to international cricket, copping expense at the hands of Sri Lanka and New Zealand at the start of the year before settling in a bit against England a couple of months later.

Solid performances for South Africa A against their Indian and Afghanistan counterparts - and significant contributions for South Western Districts in the Africa T20 Cup - have since paved the way for a decent start to Paterson's Sunfoil Series campaign.

Match fitness and relevant game time make him the right choice, for now. When Morris and others return, understandably, he'll filter down the pecking order.

Come Friday, when Faf du Plessis names the XI at the toss, one trusts Paterson will feature instead of Parnell. That's if the hosts don't go with an additional batsman in Theunis de Bruyn. I can't really see that happening, though.

AB de Villiers' return to long-format cricket, meanwhile, is drawing closer. He will play for the Titans against the Warriors in Benoni, where the beginning stages of exactly how he will fit back into the Test XI, if at all, will ostensibly begin.

JP Duminy's retirement from first-class cricket has, in part, simplified the conundrum - and de Bruyn's back seat will slide further with de Villiers' return. Who would make way for him in the first-choice XI for India's arrival, however, is perplexing.

The proud recipient of a string of promising starts - nine of which have graduated to half-centuries - Bavuma requires a ton in Bloemfontein - to add to the unbeaten 102 he scored against England at Newlands in January 2016 - to quieten those calling for de Villiers to replace him. Alternatively, there can be space for both, but a bowler light.

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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