Shukri Conrad shows his hand with inclusion of new trio

Proteas cricketersOttniel Baartman (left) and Nandre Burger (right).

Head coach Shukri Conrad has given a few hints about his selection policy with the latest Proteas Test squad.

Perhaps the most telling picks are the three men who are in line for Test debuts.

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Backing Bedingham

Two of those new faces are older players who have a lot of first-class experience. Conrad and the selection panel have shown a willingness to be forgiving and put the team’s interests first by picking David Bedingham.

Bedingham abandoned an attempt to qualify for England – and Conrad appears keen to reward the Western Province batsman’s decision.

Bedingham is 29 years old, but that won’t bother Conrad, who might be eager to ensure he has a number of red-ball specialists at his disposal to protect his ambition of winning the World Test Championship. The Test squad has arguably been hampered by a carousel of white-ball series and tournaments.

Bringing in Burger

Another new call-up is Western Province left-arm fast bowler Nandre Burger, whose experience must be a huge factor. Burger doesn’t have the miles on the clock that many 28-year-old seamers do – and gives the Proteas something different.

Burger is more likely to play if Marco Jansen isn’t in the equation, although he isn’t really a like-for-like replacement. While Burger’s batting is better than his stats point to, it certainly isn’t part of what brings him to this dance.

Selecting Stubbs

The Proteas’ management have not been shy in backing Tristan Stubbs, but this summer, he might be in line to make his Test debut. This may be a trial from both ends as Stubbs could feel pressure to limit his red-ball cricket given his immense potential in T20Is.

Stubbs will get his taste of Test cricket – and the Proteas will soon learn whether they will be able to call on him in the format for years to come.

There are few surprises in the Proteas Test squad, with a group largely made up of players with proven track records in the format and those who have made promising starts to their careers.

Verreynne over Klaasen

Conrad’s recall of Kyle Verreynne ahead of Heinrich Klaasen is also telling and speaks to his desire to form his own Test group, even if the Western Province captain has also been picked for the ODIs.

Conrad has secured assurances that the series against India, which forms part of the World Test Championship, will be prioritised. Key multi-format stars have been rested for portions of the white-ball series.

But Conrad will need to take a skeleton crew to New Zealand for an equally important series in the same Championship in February.

This could see Conrad freezing out multi-format stars in the name of having a dedicated Test crew pulling toward the goal of winning the WTC, which has to be the aim of any elite member nation’s Test coach.

James Richardson

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