South African selectors ponder changes for Test

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The Independent Online

Anyone trying to guess the composition of the South African side for the third and final Test starting at The Wanderers this morning will end up with a headache.

Having fallen 2-0 behind in the series, the local selectors will be under pressure to give opportunities to players such as Hashim Amla and Garnett Kruger.

Not that these players are unworthy candidates. Kruger is tall and strong and has taken a stack of wickets in provincial matches. He might replace Andre Nel, who has been carrying an injury and complaining of a sore head.

Amla is widely regarded as the best batsman still playing provincial cricket. A devout muslim blessed with intelligence and character, Amla bats like an eccentric but knows his own game and might become the first member of the Indian community to secure a regular place in the side.

A long list can be drawn up of batsmen deserving the chop. Unfortunately the seniors have been as bad as the newcomers. The captain Graeme Smith has been playing across straight deliveries, a strategy that relies on everything falling into place. Now he has hurt his finger again and has been ruled out of the Test. Jacques Kallis is the most correct and reliable of the established batsmen.

The Australian captain Ricky Ponting must be happy with his players, although Michael Kasprowicz was the weak link in the attack in Durban.

* The graphite bat favoured by the Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, will be withdrawn from first-class cricket by October, six weeks after it was banned from international cricket.