JOHANNESBURG: Ahead of what is expected to be a tough home series against Pakistan, South Africa coach Ottis Gibson has insisted he has no concerns regarding the form of his top order.
Hashim Amla, Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram averaged below 15 during South Africa’s last Test series, in Sri Lanka, but Gibson said the difference in conditions between playing at home and playing in the subcontinent meant those disappointing returns in July are irrelevant.
“There is no concern with regards to them,” said Gibson. “What happened in Sri Lanka has no relevance here even though Pakistan may choose spinners. Here in South Africa‚ wickets don’t spin as much as they do in Sri Lanka.”
“Aiden scored 1000 runs last year and he is back in familiar home conditions. With regards to Dean‚ he is an absolute street fighter. He is always close to hitting a double-hundred and that is fantastic.
“Coming to Hash [Amla]‚ he has been carrying niggles that have not allowed him to do the things that he wanted to do. For him, it is to get back to the nets and work on the things that he needs to work on‚ but he is an experienced player for us. He has had dips in form but he knows what he needs to do. I have spoken to him since I arrived in the country on Wednesday night and he will be desperate to get back into action. I have no concerns about them.”
There is also batting depth in South Africa’s squad for the first Test with 23-year-old Cape Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza in line to make his Test debut at Centurion if Theunis de Bruyn does not recover from a back injury in time.
“The ideal scenario is to have a settled batting lineup with the top five knowing exactly where they stand‚“ Gibson said. “Theunis [De Bruyn] scored a hundred in his last game and he is the man in possession at the moment. But we will have to see how he manages his injury situation in the next couple of days. If he does not come through‚ there is a strong possibility Hamza will play.”