Dean Elgar in action. Picture: REUTERS
Dean Elgar in action. Picture: REUTERS

London — Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla have been spared the charade of pretending Zimbabwe will offer tough resistance when the visitors face SA in the one-day series that starts in Kimberley on Sunday.

But JP Duminy has drawn the short straw: as SA’s stand-in captain in Du Plessis’s absence he will have to take it all seriously. As will Dean Elgar, who has been rustled from the rest he earned by helping Surrey win the county championship to replace Amla. Oh to have been a fly on the grumpy batsman’s wall when he took that call.

A Cricket SA release on Tuesday quoted team manager Mohammed Moosajee as saying the medical committee had decided Du Plessis has "not made a satisfactory recovery from his shoulder injury [sustained in Sri Lanka in August] and has been given more time to make a complete recovery".

Duminy has led SA in nine T20s‚ of which his team have won four.

The Zimbabweans‚ who have won only five of the 26 games they have played in 2018 and crashed out of the 2019 World Cup by losing to Afghanistan, should help Duminy improve his winning percentage.

Amla had "sustained a tear to the tendon in his left [pinkie finger] while fielding during the recent Caribbean Premier League" and would need up to three weeks to regain fitness.

So into the mix comes Elgar‚ who is unlikely to be assuaged by the nice things selection convener Linda Zondi was quoted as saying about him: "We have said that the Zimbabwe series is an opportunity to further explore our ODI options and the unfortunate injury to Hashim gives us an opportunity to see what Dean is capable of in the limited overs format. He has always been on our radar having put in consistent performances both in SA and the UK‚ and brings a wealth of valuable experience to the batting group in Hashim and Faf’s absence."

Elgar has played just six ODIs — the last of them against India in Mumbai almost three years ago. That said‚ he has made plain his ambition to be part of SA’s effort to win the World Cup‚ so perhaps he will not be quite so bleak about the batting practice he will be given by Zimbabwe’s bowlers.