Boucher backs top six batsmen for second test versus Sri Lanka

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The 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy is seen during a trophy tour event in Colombo, Sri Lanka September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/Files

PRETORIA – South Africa will go into the second test against Sri Lanka with the same top six batsmen but coach Mark Boucher acknowledges the return of fit-again fast bowler Kagiso Rabada is no certainty.

The home side will look to wrap up the two-match series in the second test that starts in Johannesburg on Jan. 3, having completed a convincing innings and 45-run victory in the first in Pretoria.

South Africa had not scored more than 284 in any of their previous 13 test innings, leading to question-marks around a number of their top six, but an impressive first innings total of 621, albeit against an injury-depleted Sri Lanka attack, has cemented Boucher’s thinking for now.

“We just got 600, why would I want to change our batting order?” he told reporters. “In test cricket, you wait for your opportunity to come. We’ve got a couple of very good batters waiting in the wings and we will keep working with them so they are ready.

“For now, it will be very difficult for me to swap a batting order that has been through a couple of tough times of late and played well. I’ll take the 600 and keep working on that.

“We’ve got tough test series coming up against Pakistan and Australia. It’s no time to start experimenting.”

Boucher admits there will be the temptation to include leading strike bowler Kagiso Rabada but says they will have to be “smart” over their use of him this season.

“Sometimes with bowlers you want to play a guy for the sake of playing him because he is your top bowler, but you need to consider his workloads, from a mental and physical side.

“We want to play KG (Rabada) all the time, but he has got to get his workloads up or there is a high risk of him getting injured.”

South Africa have included left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks in their squad for the second test after he passed COVID-19 protocols having tested positive before the team went into camp for the series.

Uncapped seamer Migael Pretorius has been released after suffering a shoulder injury in training.

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