The Boxing Day Test has already started in Melbourne. It is between Australia v India for the 2nd out of a 4 match series. And simultaneously in New Zealand. They also got a home game v Pakistan at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
But we will see another International Test Match later today. This time straight from Melbourne to Centurion when South Africa v Sri Lanka. It will be a emotional to pay tribute before the game. Robin Jackman died of cancer just last night at age 75.
He was born in British India before it became just India. Then played county cricket in England. Won a cap or two with the Test squad there. And spend his post-playing career in South Africa as a commentator. Robin retired altogether from working around 2015 or 2016.
We will look at how the Proteas XI would look like today. It may not be accurate as this is tabled by myself. They have not played Tests for nearly one year. Proteas was going to play away v West Indies for two Tests this year. But COVID changed everything & forced to cancel/postpone.
The home team may have won this annual Test v South Africa last year. But they have not won a series. Especially against India away v England at home. I am sure this task will come a little easier this time.
Dean Elgar is always undroppable as the Proteas opening clan. He is by far one of the important players in this squad. And is looking to give them a headstart. Aiden Markram joins Dean in the middle. He has a lot to prove since his finger sprain a year ago. That was Aiden in a winning side despite not scoring much. But his first class numbers however remained tip top.
Rassie Van Der Dussen covers for Aiden and Dean at first drop. He has an array of white-ball mindset to adapt in any formats. Rassie almost scored a 100 v England in the 4th Test in January. And he wants to go one better with a century to his name. Faf Du Plessis stays in the No.4 spot despite not having the captaincy. Faf still has unfinished business however. The runs are already there. Having proven himself v England in the T20s last month.
Quinton De Kock moves in at No.5 as both the keeper & captain. His all-round play is needed. Not just to provide the catches on the field. But also the white-ball mindset runs to save the game. It will depend the how severe the Opening & Top Order card collapses. Temba Bavuma joins Quinton at No.6. He might not be outstanding out there. Especially filling in the strict quota requirements. But I think Temba is better with the old ball having scored runs before. I hope Temba can prove us wrong like both Shaun Marsh & Matthew Wade.
Wiaan Mulder is a name I have heard regularly. But not so much in the Test scene for nearly two years. He should have improved his game as it goes at state level. Wiaan will not only provide cover for the quicks. But looking to provide handy runs at No.7. The same goes with Keshav Maharaj at No.8. He usually holds the No.1 spinner role with his left-arm orthodox. We know that Keshav can score runs too. Both regularly in state level and on occasions with the Proteas.
Then we can round out the Proteas XI with three dedicated seamers. These guys may not help have the run-scoring strength. But can be a dangerous asset with the ball. Anrich Nortje is the most experienced at age 27. And should be open the bowling with Lungi Ngidi. I know we have not see Lungi for a year due to a hamstring strain. But he is back fit now & ready to give the Sri Lankas a painful time.
And a newcomer should come in named Lutho Sipamla. He shared the most runs in the domestic franchise T20 comp back in 2018-19. The opposite role of what Rassie did with the bat. Lutho is aged 22 having played white-ball cricket a few times for the Proteas. And I am sure he will compensate the loss of Kagiso Rabada.
We are unable to have Kagiso recover on time due to a groin strain. This planned first Test Proteas XI is unchanged in the Top 5 batting card. And should be the key to win both Tests. But the bowlers are light on some areas. So the full squad support is needed to guide them home safely.