Opinion: Proteas take a leaf out of India's playbook

Fielder throws cricket ball in

South Africa's selection of Tabraiz Shamsi and Shaun von Berg is effectively a direct pull from India's playbook.


While it's hard to see Shamsi and von Berg cracking the nod for the same XI, the Proteas evidently saw the merit in having a left-arm wrist spinner and right-arm leg-spinner available in tandem when Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal were weaving their magic in Centurion and surrounds earlier this year.

Von Berg's call-up is due reward for a consistent performer at first-class franchise level, but several others have been snubbed, namely Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen. An additional wicketkeeper-batsman resource in Heinrich Klaasen is the right way to go, but Malan or van der Dussen could have been backed ahead of Theunis de Bruyn.

Five Tests into a burgeoning career, de Bruyn hasn't exactly set the international stage alight - nor will he, probably. Malan, though older, could be a better prospect. He is also an opening option - not another middle-order resource. Anyway, what's done is done and hopefully Malan's chance will come later this year.

One surmises Dale Steyn will walk straight back into the XI, meaning Lungi Ngidi will have to fall down the pecking order again, as Steyn, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada lead the line. Wiaan Mulder isn't there - and his presence would definitely have afforded South Africa greater flexibility. They could have, say, played two seamers and two specialist spinners, with Mulder's all-round talent there to boost the bowling ranks in particular.

Shamsi isn't quite out of danger of playing just one Test for his country, back in 2016, in Adelaide, when it was thought his ability to skid the ball onto the batsmen in day-night conditions would succeed. It didn't - and the tourists actually ended up bowling Dean Elgar, JP Duminy and Temba Bavuma before affording the left-arm wrist spinner more overs in that match.

He's a great limited-overs bowler, no doubt. But his four- and five-day cricket credentials can easily be called into question, much like those of Imran Tahir's were when he fell out of Test match favour and rose to T20I and ODI notoriety. One wonders if Simon Harmer would be going to Sri Lanka ahead of Shamsi, were he not currently on a Kolkpak deal.

No matter the composition of South Africa's squad, this shouldn't be too challenging a tour against a Sri Lankan outfit currently struggling against a West Indian unit significantly inferior in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Hollywoodbets.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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