South Africa opt for pace

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The Independent Online


reports from Kimberley

Brute force will be the method employed by South Africa in their attempt to win this series. They announced a 12-man squad yesterday for the first Test against England, which includes five bowlers ranging from fast-medium to very fast indeed.

It is likely all five will play, unless the pitch at Centurion Park in Pretoria is expected to turn at the last minute, in which case the left- arm spinner, Clive Eksteen, will be in the XI. Even the West Indies have never employed more than four fast bowlers in any one match.

Shaun Pollock, the latest in a famous dynasty and son of the present chairman of selectors, is one of the five, and named for the first time. Peter Pollock was an outstanding fast bowler who took 116 wickets in 28 Tests and uncle Graeme, of course, was a batsman rivalled only by Sobers as the best in the world 25 years ago.

An attack comprising five quick bowlers scarcely suggests variety, but they are all different. Allan Donald's qualities are well-known - Raymond Illingworth believes him to be the best in the world at the moment - and Brett Schultz will bowl left-arm over at high velocity. He is unpredictable, with a history of knee trouble, but is strong and has genuine pace.

Craig Matthews is the stock bowler and Brian McMillan a good enough all- rounder to bat at No 6. Fanie De Villiers, second only to Donald as South Africa's leading wicket-taker since their return to Test cricket, is injured. Kepler Wessels, the former captain many thought might return to add ballast to the batting, told the selectors he did not wish to be considered.

Illingworth was unfazed by the apparent fusillade coming England's way. "If four fast bowlers can't do it, I don't see why five can," was his view, and it is difficult to argue with that. He is more concerned with Robin Smith and Devon Malcolm finding their form against South Africa A here on Thursday, the last game before the Test.

The opposition includes Jacques Kallis, the talented batsman from Cape Town who is applying pressure to Jonty Rhodes' Test place. Paul Adams, a left-arm Chinaman bowler with an action that requires a fair degree of contortion, is selected after just one first-class match.

SOUTH AFRICA (First Test v England, starting 16 November, Pretoria) From: A C Hudson (Natal), G Kirsten (Western Province), W J Cronje (Free State, capt), D J Cullinan (Border), J N Rhodes (Natal), B M McMillan (Western Province), D J Richardson (Eastern Province, wkt), S M Pollock (Natal), C R Matthews (Western Province), A A Donald (Free State), B N Schultz (Eastern Province), C E Eksteen (Transvaal).

n Dickie Bird is to umpire the second Test between Australia and Pakistan in Hobart from 17 to 21 November and the final Test in Sydney from 30 November to 4 December.

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