Ottis Gibson might stick with four seamers across the home season
What's the story?
South Africa's head coach Ottis Gibson has expressed that prefers fielding four-seamers, especially in home conditions, as the pitches offer true pace and bounce. "I'm a very fast-bowling minded coach and I guess we will always have to find a balance to see if we can get four fast bowlers in the team, first of all. We'll look at things like are the conditions suited to four fast bowlers. If not we try and shape the team in other ways," Gibson said.
In case you didn't know..
In the just-concluded first Test of their three-match series against India, South Africa opted for four frontline quicks besides a left-arm spin bowling option in Keshav Maharaj. All four pacers, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel, were among the wickets as the hosts trumped India by 72 runs in a low-scoring encounter.
The track at Cape Town persistently offered movement off the surface and the match finished inside four days, one of which was entirely washed out by rain.
The heart of the matter
The series now moves on to Centurion and Johannesburg, pitches which are anticipatedly quicker than the one at Cape Town. Though Steyn limped off with an injured heel and did not bowl in India's second innings, Philander bagged career-best figures of 6/42 as South Africa successfully defended 208.
In place of Steyn, the hosts have now added Duanne Olivier and Lungi Ngidi in their squad, though they might be tempted to play Chris Morris in the remaining matches, a pacer who is a respectable batsman lower down the order. "When you are playing at home, you must play to your strengths. If you want to beat the best team in the world, which India are, then maybe we have to do something slightly different to what we've done in the past,” Gibson said of the idea behind employing four fast bowlers in the eleven.
The second Test between South Africa and India begins at Centurion from January 13 while the final one starts at Johannesburg from January 24. After the three Tests, the teams will be playing 6 ODIs and 3 T20Is; and post that, South Africa are slated to host Australia for four Tests, the first time that the two teams will be playing a series of more than three Tests.
It is fair to say that South Africa will be fully utilizing the friendly pitches and the favourable conditions at home by ensuring they pepper the opposition by as much pace as possible. And with Australia themselves, a pace-heavy unit, the battle against Mitchell Starc & Co. will be extremely intriguing.