With AB de Villiers back in the mix, there is a big question mark on who he should replace for the Test series against Sri Lanka.
Coming off a third-consecutive Test series win Down Under, Proteas coach Russell Domingo emphasised consistency as the key to keeping the winning formula in the squad.
The issue around selection has been the main topic of discussion, as speculation circulates on who should be dropped in favour of De Villiers’ inevitable return.
Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar and JP Duminy all hit centuries for the Proteas in Australia, but most likely one of them will be the fall-guy in order for De Villiers to slot in.
Domingo is adamant that Stephen Cook deserves a run in the squad to prove his worth to the team.
‘I know a lot of people might have been questioning Stephen Cook, but you’ve got to give him an opportunity. It was a similar thing we did with Stiaan van Zyl. You can’t just play him for two or three games, and if he’s not in form, you get rid of the guy. So, you’ve got to give guys an extended run to find some form, particularly when you’ve got belief in them.’
Cook has created a sticky situation for selectors after he scored 40 and 104 in the day-night Test in Adelaide. This means that they are now posed with the dilemma of choosing between three centurions.
If the selectors do decide to stick with Cook, then that means that either Elgar, Duminy or even Du Plessis could make way.
The 250-run partnership between Elgar and Duminy was vital in grabbing the win in Perth, as both batsmen picked up important centuries in the first Test.
Evidence proved that Du Plessis thrived under pressure, he showed assurance and confidence in his decision making, as South Africa’s bowling unit dominated in the opening two Tests. He also managed to chip in with a century in the first innings of the third Test, to lift the Proteas out of a sticky situation after being 44-3 after 15 overs in Adelaide.
Despite Du Plessis’ success as captain in the ODI whitewash at home and the 2-1 win in Australia, he is expected to hand the captaincy back to De Villiers.
Domingo praised Du Plessis for his temporary role as captain, but still remained steadfast on De Villiers as his first-choice skipper.
‘As far as I know, the status quo will remain – AB is the guy that’s in charge, and once fit, he will come back into the side,’ Domingo said.
‘Faf has been outstanding. The team has supported him throughout. He’s a very team-focused person, he’s a very self-driven person and he has done an outstanding job over the last couple of weeks. I think everybody in the change room is very proud of what he has achieved.’
Photo of De Villiers and Domingo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix