2021: South Africa’s Starting XI as they Begin a New Era

South Africa return to Test Cricket after six months, with a new agenda

South Africa last played Test Cricket six months ago, in a series against West Indies that could be seen as the starting point in their attempt to come back into Test Cricket. They have a new captain, and the side contains no members from the team that attained the number one Test ranking, back in 2012. Faf Du Plessis is the latest member to retire from the golden group, and South Africa began their transition well, with a series win in the West Indies.

The summer is key for South Africa, as they look to make a strong entry in the World Test Championship points table. They finished fifth last time around, and couldn’t play some key home games, which could have helped them finish a little higher. The last cycle though, was full of chaos. There was issues with the board, and Faf Du Plessis did well to see the team through that as skipper, but South Africa struggled to perform in the given phase.

South Africa has been one of the least active teams in the World Test Championship. They lost the chance of hosting some crucial series, when England and Australia called of their series. South Africa now has a good amount of games ahead of them, as they kick of their resurgence. They face India at home, and then travel to New Zealand to take on the World Test Champions, before facing Bangladesh back at home. They have around Ten Tests planned in 2022.

Another factor behind the disturbance in South Africa’s development is the timing of their players retirement. Mark Boucher retired in 2012, and since then South Africa has lost a key player each year. The core of their team slowly fell away, and the side has had to deal with an influx of new players. The lack of stability in the board has been another factor behind that has affected South Africa.

The transformation targets have also been changing, as South Africa keep moving from six to seven players of color in the side, on average. The current condition is to play six players of color, while two must be black Africans.

With some much turbulence, the eleven will be a challenge for South Africa. The top-order is settled with the gritty leader, Dean Elgar holding one spot, along with Aiden Markram, who is doing well across formats. Keegan Peterson is likely to play at number three. He didn’t have a great time in the West Indies, but could be given a few chances to settle into the role. At four and five, South Africa have Rassie Van Der Dussen, and Temba Bavuma. Both players are crucial for South Africa, and are in decent nick as well.

The wicket-keeping spot will be taken by Quinton De Kock, but with De Kock likely to miss one or two games due to family commitments, Kyle Verreynne could come into the eleven at some stage in this series. Generally, South Africa prefer to use a pace bowling all-rounder at number seven, and Wiann Mulder could be the choice, as a fourth pace option.

Keshav Maharaj is fixed as the spinner, and his spot in the side is nowhere near up for debate. The pace attack though contains a handful of options. Anrich Nortje’s injury has ended the debate between Lungi Ngidi, and Duanne Oliver. Both of them could be in the pace attack, along with Rabada, who is another fixed member in the side.

Lungi Ngidi’s fitness is still in doubt, but incase he is fit he is a likely starter. South Africa have a few other pace options, with Marco Jensen likely to find a place in the eleven at some stage in the series.