CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – The complexity of the transformation process in South African cricket, amid a desire for a racially diverse team that better represents the country, will again be highlighted on Thursday as selectors pick their side for the second test against England.
South Africa‘s previously all-white cricket team has changed dramatically over the last three decades but there remains a quota target in team selection to redress the imbalances from the country’s apartheid era.
At least two black players and another four from South Africa‘s mixed-race and Indian communities must play but last week’s first test had two new white players capped while another is expected to debut on Friday in the second test at Newlands.
The quota target fell short by two players in Pretoria after Temba Bavuma suffered a hip injury and was replaced by debutant Rassie van der Dussen, who now looks to retain his place as the No. 5 batsman while Bavuma battles with his fitness.
Dwaine Pretorius was chosen to fill the all-rounder’s berth in the side, ahead of Andile Phehlukwayo, who has played in four tests and 52 One Day Internationals.
Fulfilling the quota requirements while fielding a competitive team has long been a sensitive issue but after a poor 2019, returning to winning ways looks to be the immediate priority of the four selectors, two of whom are black.
Sunday’s first test win arrested a run of five successive defeats but came in tandem with criticism about too many whites in senior roles in and around the team after the recent shake-up of Cricket South Africa.
At the top of the order, coach Mark Boucher has already said Pieter Malan will most likely make his debut on Friday in place of Aiden Markram, who had surgery this week on a broken finger, which could fuel further controversy.
Keegan Petersen, who is of mixed-race, was called to replace Markram in the squad but Boucher said: “For us to go messing around with the opening position wouldn’t be clever.
“Pieter Malan has done a lot of good work over a long period of time. It’s his home ground. At the moment, we are swinging towards having a straight swap for the opening batsman.2
“We understand transformation and we understand we need to do a lot of hard work on a lot of players, especially all-rounders,” Boucher added.