A gaping hole has been left in the South African batting order with legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis quitting the five-day game. Kallis finished his career with 13289 runs and 292 wickets. While his slot as one of the greatest all-rounders in the game can never be filled completely, South Africa do have a few options to look at as they try to find a new number four in Tests. Considering the significance of the batting order, an experienced campaigner would be preferred for the position. We look at the choices South Africa have.
AB de Villiers: Since the top three in the batting order have been tasting success on a consistent basis, it would make sense not to tinker with the batting line-up there. Skipper Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla should continue in the same slot. The most experienced batsman in the team after skipper Smith is de Villiers. The ODI captain has always been touted for great things, and with Kallis gone, he will be expected to take over the mantle of the team’s best batsman. He has the talent, but as mentioned earlier, obvious comparisons with Kallis would make things tough.
Per se, de Villiers is an attacking batsman, but over the years he has displayed the ability to put his head down and bat according to the situation. He has some massive scores to his credit – 178 vs West Indies, 217 vs India, 174 vs England, 163 vs Australia and above all 278 not out against Pakistan. de Villiers is special in the sense that more often than not he delivers under pressure. His second-innings 33 at Adelaide came off 220 balls. Recently in Johannesburg, his hundred almost helped South Africa to a miraculous win over India.
Faf du Plessis: He is anotherstrong contender for the number four slot even though he does not possess a lot of experience. In fact, du Plessis has only featured in 11 Tests so far, but right from the time he made his debut, he has made a significant impact with his contributions. The best part about du Plessis’ batting is the kind of solidity he lends to the team, which is something South Africa need in Kallis’ absence. In his very first Test, du Plessis showed amazing tenacity, batting out for 470 minutes for a century which helped South Africa secure a draw at Adelaide. The qualities were evident in the recent Test against India as well at Johannesburg, where his magnificent ton took South Africa to the brink of the impossible before they held out for a draw following du Plessis’ unfortunate run-out.
JP Duminy: Not a strong contender, but Duminy might still stand an outside chance of claiming the number four slot. The left-hander began his Test journey on a spectacular note with a couple of highly mature knocks against the Aussies. He was expected to go places since but has failed to deliver and hasn’t been a constant presence in the team. Duminy has the talent; a new challenge might just be what he needs to resurrect his career.
--By A Cricket Analyst