- The Proteas are sweating over vice-captain Temba Bavuma fitness on the eve of the first Test against the West Indies in St. Lucia.
- If Bavuma remains unfit, Proteas captain Dean Elgar revealed that Kyle Verreynne could possibly be stepping in.
- If Verreynne plays, South Africa will play two debutants.
The Proteas face a nervous wait to discover if vice-captain and batsman Temba Bavuma will be fit for the first Test against the West Indies, which gets under way on Thursday in St Lucia.
Bavuma is recovering from an upper left hip injury and remains under an injury cloud on the eve before the first of two Tests in the Caribbean.
The 31-year-old is also hoping to still lead the side later this month in the five-match T20 series against the West Indies.
“It is a bit of a concern for us… It was a bit of concern a few days ago, but he still needs to go out there today and prove his fitness,” Elgar told reporters on Wednesday.
“If he is fit, he’ll slot in at number five. He is accustomed to it now and would want to fit into that slot.”
However, the Proteas have a back-up plan if Bavuma is deemed unfit.
The position will be filled by Cape Cobras star wicketkeeper-batsman Kyle Verreynne, whose exclusion from the Proteas side during the Pakistan limited-overs series raised several eyebrows.
Verreynne, who has played 3 ODIs for the Proteas, is next in line despite the Proteas also having Dolphins batsman Sarel Erwee in their squad.
“I think Kyle would definitely be in that position as it suits him best. He isn’t too foreign in that spot as he has fulfilled that position with his domestic side,” said Elgar.
“In saying that, we are banking on Temba to be fit. We’ll know today and have conversations for a replacement if Temba is unfit.”
The Proteas have already confirmed that Dolphins batsman Keegan Petersen will make his international debut as he will replace the now-retired Faf du Plessis at number 4.
If Bavuma fails his fitness test on Wednesday, Verreynne will step in and the Proteas will have two debutant batsmen in their line-up.
Elgar acknowledges that this is their reality and that they could see the benefit of having some younger players in the side.
“I don’t think there’s any other option because all our back-up batsmen haven’t played yet. There’s a possibility that we’ll have two guys making their debut starting tomorrow if Temba is not fit,” said Elgar.
“Those are the cards we are dealt, but the guys have prepared well. And it’s maybe not a bad thing having younger guys in, they seem to be very hungry at the moment.
“A guy like Kyle has been sitting on the sidelines for quite some time now so I’m sure he is chomping at the bit to have his opportunity, if it has to play that way out.”
Play on Thursday starts at 16:00 SA time.
Proteas Test squad for West Indies tour:
Dean Elgar (captain, Northerns), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain, Central Gauteng Lions), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper, Northerns), Sarel Erwee (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Beuran Hendricks (Western Province), George Linde (Western Province), Keshav Maharaj (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Lungi Ngidi (Northerns), Aiden Markram (Northerns), Wiaan Mulder (Central Gauteng Lions), Anrich Nortje (Eastern Province), Keegan Peterson (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Kagiso Rabada (Central Gauteng Lions), Rassie van der Dussen (Central Gauteng Lions), Kyle Verreynne (Western Province), Tabraiz Shamsi (Northerns), Lizaad Williams (Northerns), Prenelan Subrayen (KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Marco Jansen (Eastern Province).