Part of South Africa’s rise to number one in the official Test rankings can be attributed to a quality frontline bowling attack.
For a number of seasons now, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have spearheaded the Proteas attack in cricket’s longest format and they’ve enjoyed plenty of success. They’re also going to be at their best when they tour India.
The big guns will be rested for the early part of the tour five that neither feature in the T20 squad. Instead it will be left to the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Marchant de Lange and Kyle Abbott to strike up front and prove their value.
All three are obviously harbouring Test ambitions, as all cricketers do, but of course the dynamics of the current Test squad allow for limited opportunity. Of those three only Rabada is part of the Test setup – as he was against the West Indies and Bangladesh – but has yet to make his debut.
“We’re winning Test cricket so it’s going to be hard for him to get in the Test squad,” Charl Langeveldt, the Proteas bowing coach, said of Rabada at this week’s fast bowlers camp in Centurion.
“In India it might be even harder because we might even play two spinners. We’ve got three seam bowlers who have done well for South Africa for a number of years now,” he added referring to the spin contingent of Simon Harmer and the recalled duo of Imran Tahir and Dane Piedt.
“I still think our fast bowling attack is going to be key in India. There are wickets that might have a bit more carry but I still think the seam bowlers are key for us in the sub-continent.”
Steyn, now 32 years old, has shown no signs of slowing down in cricket’s longest format, neither have Morkel or Philander – both are 30 – so it’s something of a bun fight for the next generation to get a look in in the Test arena.
“When you’ve got a bowler competing for the same spot everyone will lift their game. A senior player will lift their game and that’s important that we have competition. You have to earn the right to play for South Africa so competition is good,” Langeveldt said of the current situation.
Rabada is also well aware of the situation and he admitted that he’s adopted a patient approach with regards to earning his Test cap.
“We’ve got three quality fast bowlers who have been the number one attack in the world since I can remember so it’s going to be tough. If I do play, my role will be to do what I do best, try bowl quick, mix the aggression and try hit a good area,” said the 20-year-old.
“If I don’t play I’ll wait for my chance and be patient. I’ll be waiting for my opportunity.”