Proteas coach Conrad follows his judgment as Rickelton snubbed again
Coach explains some of his selections for the Test squad
“Ultimately,” said Shukri Conrad, “the buck stops with me.”
He was explaining some of his selections in the Proteas Test squad for the series against India that starts on Boxing Day.
While the bowling unit picks itself, it is the batting where some contentious calls were made, most notably, again, the exclusion of Ryan Rickelton.
Eight months ago, Conrad spoke highly of the 27-year-old left-hander, despite Rickelton not doing enough in the second Test against the West Indies at the Wanderers.
“He will be a big part of the side, he will be one of those guys who, through performances domestically, [and] knowing his character, is someone we will start building the Test side around,” Conrad said in March.
Time has changed that perspective.
“Eight months is a very long time,” Conrad remarked on Monday after naming his 15-man squad. In that period Tristan Stubbs and David Bedingham forced a change in the coach’s thinking.
Bedingham had revealed he was happy to do an about-turn on his ambitions of chasing an England cap and proceeded to have had an outstanding season for Durham, helping them win the County Championship second division title.
“To not have someone of Bedders’ quality in the squad, we’d have missed a trick. His performances domestically and for Durham have been phenomenal. He’s banged the door down,” said Conrad.
Bedingham scored more than 1,000 runs at an average of 56.61 making five centuries. Having been a favourite of the coach when the two worked together at Western Province, once Bedingham’s form matched his renewed desire for Proteas recognition it was always going to be hard for Conrad to ignore him.
Stubbs is a slightly different matter. Having made an impression as a limited overs basher, earning a call-up to the T20 World Cup in 2022, he meticulously worked on his first-class game, having made earning a Test cap as a goal.
It was on a SA A tour to Sri Lanka in July, with Conrad also preparing that unit, that Stubbs made an impression.
“He just showed so much in that Sri Lanka tour and then since coming back [to SA].”
Stubbs scored a century in the second four-day “test” on that tour, an innings in which he batted for almost all day. That he didn’t see out the day was a source of great regret for the 23-year-old but his character and technique were enough for Conrad to pick him for the India Test series.
His hundred for the Warriors last weekend, in their defeat of a Lions team featuring Rickelton was likely to have confirmed his selection, but it is still one that Conrad recognises is risky.
“I have to make a call and when I do so, it might not be in line with what I said eight months ago. But things change and currently I have to choose someone and as it stands right now I chose Bedingham and Stubbs ahead of Rickelton.”
Proteas Test squad against India: Temba Bavuma (capt), David Bedingham, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada, Tristan Stubbs, Kyle Verreynne.
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