Selection dilemma for Eng, SA

Rain threatens to play spoilsport at Centurion; 100th Test for Ntini

Selection dilemma for Eng, SA

ALL SMILES: South Africa's Jacques Kallis (left) and coaching consultant Duncan Fletcher during a training session. REUTERS

South Africa have to decide whether to play star all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who is recovering from a rib injury. If he plays it will almost certainly be as a batsman only, which would probably mean South Africa going into the Test with only four recognised bowlers.

England, too, must decide whether they can afford to pick only four bowlers, especially as two of the likely attack, James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom, have only bowled in one innings after recovering from injuries.

If England want to ensure back-up for the specialist bowlers, they will have to hand a first cap to all-rounder Luke Wright at the expense of a specialist batsman.

The preparation of both teams, and the opportunity to provide a workout for players whose places are up for debate, was frustrated by heavy rain on Monday which cut short England’s net practice and prevented the South Africans from going outdoors.
Rain has been a major factor in all three Test matches between South Africa and England at Centurion, with two matches drawn, with the only exception coming in 1999/2000 after then-South African captain Hansie Cronje engineered a contrived result in dubious circumstances after three days of play were washed out.

The three matches against England -- who won after Cronje’s controversial agreement to forego a second innings and set England a generous target -- are the only Tests at Centurion not won by South Africa, who have achieved 11 victories at the ground. The weather forecast for the days of the coming Test is largely favourable, however.

Pace bowlers usually get some assistance at Centurion, while spin bowlers can rely on reasonable bounce.

Milestone for Ntini

Makhaya Ntini, 32, will play his hundreth Test in Centurion. Nitini started playing in the national squad in 1997. “Very few fast bowlers have played more than 100 Tests, and to become the first Black player in South Africa to do that, makes it even more special,” Ntini said.

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