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Q&A: SA v Pakistan tests

Our senior journalist, Jason Humphries, hosted a Question & Answer session on Wednesday morning on the forthcoming Pakistan tour to South Africa.

Thank you to everyone who participated - we've had quite a number of comments and have endeavoured to cover most topics.

Enjoy perusing the questions and answers below - and come back soon for our next session.

The question and answer session has closed.

Questions and answers
Clinton asked:
If south africa draw or lose the test series which is highly likely, will they stay nr.1 or will england overtake them when they win the test series in nz 3-0 ?
Jason answered:
Hi Clinton. Even if SA loses the series 1-0 they will still be at the top of the rankings. If they lose the series 3-0 they would drop below England into second place.
Steve van Rooyen asked:
The proteas seem to perform better overseas than locally against top opposition.Do you think poor crowd support at test matches(with the exception of the recent New Zealand series)has something to do with this?
Jason answered:
It is an interesting question as to why the Proteas have not done as well at home in test cricket as they have overseas against top opposition. I don’t think it has too much to do with crowd support at test matches, although more fans are always welcome. I think it had more to do with the current side learning just how good they were and how to win tough matches. The belief they have got from winning overseas in England and Australia will start filtering through to their home performances.
Thea Engelbrecht asked:
Hi Jason, I am a very proud protea fan, not only for their success, but for the way they conduct themselves on and off the field. My question is how much of an impact do you think Ajmal will have in this series? In the past we''ve been known to struggle against spin and he is probably the best in the world at the moment. GO PROTEAS!!!
Jason answered:
Ajmal is certainly one of Pakistan’s danger men, and is the top-ranked test spinner in test cricket. He has only played one test against SA, back in 2010 in Dubai. He will not get as much turn on South African wickets as he is used to but he will get bounce which can be an effective weapon for spinners.
I believe SA have the tools to deal with him though but he will have to be respected especially on days four and five of the tests.
Kyle asked:
I feel that Quinton de kock should have been selected in the squad instead of Rudolph, Yes Rudolph is a good cricketer but if de kock is seen as the future in sa cricket dont you think he should be part of the squad to gain more experience
Jason answered:
I’m not sure that calling De Kock into the test squad would do the youngster any favours at the moment. By staying with his franchise team he will have the opportunity to play cricket, something which his fledgling career needs, instead of being dragged around the country carrying the drinks for the national squad.
Vishnu Vangarajaloo asked:
Yes they will adapt coz there are alot of Pakistani resturants in Joburg and surrounding areas. They can even go to STAR for haircuts. Imran Tahir coz he is Pakistani. I just have one question with so many Paki''s in South Africa will this be considered a home series for them?
Jason answered:
Hi Vishnu, while there is no doubt that Pakistan will have support in SA I think it would be going a step too far to say that they could consider it a ‘home’ series. Not many of the current Pakistan squad have even toured SA before so they will find the playing conditions very different to what they are used to. SA fans will also comfortably outnumber Pakistan support.
Calv asked:
Hi jason. Where do you think King kallis will stand in terms of the best players of all time, after he retires?
Jason answered:
It’s an interesting question and one that has already sparked quite a debate. There are very few cricketers who stand out as the best there has ever been. Don Bradman is undoubtedly the greatest batsman and Shane Warne is the best ever leg-spinner. Kallis is already South Africa’s greatest cricketer and he should be considered amongst one of the best to have ever played the game.
Shannon Daniels asked:
Do you think this will be our best match day XI for the first test and moving forward: Graeme Smith, Alviro Peterson, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir/Rory Kleinveldt. Imran will be a great factor if our seamers needs to be rested during the middle periods plus pick up wickets when the ball gets older, But in terms of Pakistan he will be a nice addition to change our pace attack and give us a bit of variety. If you look at this lineup you will say we really spoilt for choice.
Jason answered:
Hi Shannon, JP Duminy will not play in the test series as he recovers from injury while Robin Peterson, if he passes a fitness test later today, will play instead of Imran Tahir.
The first test line-up, barring any injures, will be Smith, Petersen, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers, Du Plessis, Elgar, Peterson/Tahir, Philander, Steyn, Morkel. I think Robin Peterson showed enough against Australia and New Zealand to be considered SA’s best spin option at the moment but you are right. With Kleinveldt, Tahir and a fit-again JP Duminy to choose from SA are spoiled for choice at the moment.
RajN asked:
Why do u thinkg Johan Botha never got given a chance in the test team?
Is he now lost to SA cricket as he captains South Aus side?
Is test spinner now Peterson > Tahir > Phangiso?
Is there anyone else?
Jason answered:
Johan Botha did play in five tests, none of them at home though, and his path to the test team was first blocked by Paul Harris, who did the job that the team wanted out of a spinner at the time, that is blocking up an end to allow the fast bowlers to attack. Imran Tahir was then hailed as the next big thing and Harris was out which also did not leave any room for Botha. Robin Peterson’s career had also steadily improved and eventually he even overtook Botha in the one-day frame because it was believed that he was a more attacking option than Botha.
Botha’s decision to move to Australia does mean that South Africa’s spin stocks are pretty thin. Peterson and Tahir are the stand-outs but after them there is a drop off. Tahir is the only spinner in the top-16 wicket takers in this year’s Sunfoil Series with Warriors off-spinner Simon Harmer in 17th place. Harmer, given a bit more time to develop, could well represent SA at some point but that is why JP Duminy’s return to full fitness is so important. He has the ability to develop into a fine all-rounder and could even fulfil the role of front-line spinner in time.
Francois asked:
Graeme Smith has turned out to be a wonderful leader. Will everything going on i.e. b-day, new baby, 100 tests as capt. not take his focus away from the game? Congratulations!!
Jason answered:
It is a good point you bring up Francois about all the distractions around Graeme at the moment. You often hear how milestones and significant moments in a career can distract players. But Graeme, and the Proteas’ management, are a wise bunch and I’m sure they will do all they can to make sure that the players’ minds are focussed on the game. It could also help to lift South Africa’s performance.
Grahame asked:
There is all this talk about bouncier wickets, but the reality of late is that the SA tracks are becoming batting heavens after day 1. Do you not believe that we have the quality to destroy sub continental teams if we really produced pacey and bouncy wickets. I believe that preparing these so called "good cricket wickets" we give them the opportunity of building bigger innings and putting us under pressure.
Jason answered:
I’m not sure I agree with you about all the wickets becoming flat after day one. The last two tests at Newlands have proved to be perfect for fast bowlers and the second test against Pakistan will be at Newlands while the Wanderers is known as the quickest and bounciest pitch in the country. Preparing bowler-friendly pitches only can also backfire if the opposition has a decent pace attack, which Pakistan has. Ideally you want day one to belong to the bowlers, days two and three be good for batting while the spinners come into play on days four and five. I believe that SA has a well-rounded team which should thrive under those conditions.
HI Jason. just one thing, at the moment we are struggeling with a spinner in the team. I know Robin is doing a good job, dont you feel Johan Botha will do a better job?? and he can hold a bat. I have heard rumours that Botha and Graeme Smith do not get along is this true? Coz then I can understand why they dont choose him.I know Botha was in Oz but get the guy back!!
Jason answered:
Hi Rayno, I did answer some of the questions about Botha earlier. One of the reasons Johan went to Australia was to improve his first-class cricket. He only signed a two-year contract and could conceivably be back in SA as a much better bowler which could only help South African cricket.
AVINASH asked:
I do not think SA has the best possible 11 playing at the moment, although Dean Elgar scored a century against NZ I think a guy like Albie Morkel Should get a chance at No 7 as a batting all rounder as this will then reduce the workload on Kallis and extend his career. I also think if Robbie P is not fit, SA should play a 4 prongred pace attack as Tahir has proven not be an attacking option nor a defensive option
Jason answered:
JP Duminy, when fit, is almost sure to replace Elgar.Duminy also provides a bowling option. I'm not sure Albie Morkel is the solution to the number seven spot. His bowling is not good enough for test cricket. AB de Villiers keeping wicket means that SA do have the chance to play an extra specialist batsman, a tactic which seems to be working for them at the moment. There is a chance SA will go into the first test with an all-pace attack but I think it is unlikely, especially if Kallis is used as the fourth seamer. Tahir looks to regained someform in domestic cricket. Hopefully he can replicate that at test level if required.
Ryan asked:
Hi Jason!

Congrats to Graham Smith on his 100th test as captain. I have 2 questions for you: Do you think the South African public have really appreciated what we have in the leadership of Smith? (His test record as a batsman and captain are fantastic!). And do you think we lack his authority as a leader in the ODI format? Thanks a lot!
Jason answered:
Hi Ryan, I don't think Graeme has been given enough respect from some South African fans. There is no doubt that he is South Africa's most succesful captain and he must wonder sometimes what he has to do to win over all the fans. He probably gets more respect from other nations which seems a bit strange. Graeme might not be the ODI captain at the moment but he is there to provide AB or Faf with insight and help so he is transferring his skills.
Siyabulela Lolonga asked:
What is the rationale behind droping Thamie Tsolekile and still look for long-term repalcement for Boucher..?
Jason answered:
The decision to drop Thami simply came down to the fact that AB de Villiers decided that he was prepared to wear the gloves in test cricket. It then made no sense to keep an extra keeper in the squad if he wasn't going to play. I feel for Thami as he probably deserved a chance in the test series against NZ but if AB did go down with an injury I'm sure Thami would be called up to the test team. The long-term option looks to be Quinton de Kock who wore the gloves in the limited-overs matches against NZ but he still needs some work before he is ready for test cricket.
Paul asked:
Why is Alviro Peterson not been selected for the one-day squad? It has been commented that playing in one-day cricket has helped Hashim Amla peformance in test cricket as well.Would appreciate info. Thanks.
Jason answered:
I think that the selectors have shown their hand and many of their one-day selections seem to have one eye on the next World Cup in 2015. There seems to be a focus on youth. Jacques Kallis has already stated his desire to play through to the next World Cup and the selectors are obviously looking to find youngsters who will be able to play around him. A one-day batting line-up of Amla, Smith, Kallis, De Villiers, Du Plessis and Duminy looks pretty strong which could explain while Alviro is not in the frame at the moment.
imo asked:
Vernon Philander, do you think he will ever play one dayers? Should he play or should he not? I believe he can make it not only in tests but ODIs too. Thanks for your time.
Jason answered:
The decision has been made to allow Vernon to concentrate on test cricket. The one-day arena would also mean he would have to start messing around with the length that he bowls, a length that we have seen is perfectly suited to test cricket. I agree he probably could add something to the ODI team but would you want to take the chance that it may affect his test bowling? I wouldn’t.
ernes van den heever asked:
What is the top speed of the tall man Mohamed Irfan. And does he get a lott of swing. I never seen him in action before. thanx Ernes
Jason answered:
I haven’t seen too much of Irfan except for some of the recent limited-overs cricket against India but he bowls at around 140km/h to 145km/h and did get some swing. He could be a difficult customer in SA conditions if he makes the test team. However, he has yet to play a test so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the test arena.
David asked:
Hi Jason. Just want to know do you think the Proteas success over the last year has been due to think fact we playing 7 specialist batsmen and if so are we relying to much on this..Yes there have been some outstanding performances by individuals. Would SA still be as dominant if they included a specialist keeper or spinner in the side with only 6 specialist batsmen.I feel there is to much pressure on AB at the moment in all formats of the game.I would also like to see SA give the youngsters a chance at test level and maybe try one or two things. Thanks
Jason answered:
Hi David. I'll admit that I wasn't completely sold on the idea of seven batsmen but it certainly seems to have worked. However, you also have to take into account how well South Africa's bowling attack has performed recently. I agree that AB's workload is too much for him but SA management have realised that. AB did not play in the T20 series against NZ and he would not have worn the gloves in the ODIs even if he had played all of the matches. AB's workload will be managed and if it is felt that keeping in test matches is too much for him I'm sure you would see him give up the gloves.
Danian asked:
Hi jason my view on this series would be very close and i think that our batting must be up to the task pakistan bowling attact is very good so watch out guys
Jason answered:
I agree with you on Pakistan's bowling attack but key for them will be how well their batsmen adjust to the extra pace and bounce of South African wickets. It could also come down to which Pakistan team turns up.They are a bit like the French rugby team in that they can be brilliant on one day but be far less so on another day.
craig asked:
Hi jason , thnks 4 ur time , I simply want to know whether you think quinton de kock should b given a chance in this test series to see if ab performs better without keeper duties(he seems a good prospect to settle in as a permanent keeper) ? N who do u think is gna trouble the proteas the most in the test
Jason answered:
Hi Craig. I don't believe that Quinton de Kock is quite ready for test cricket. He is still finding his feet at senior level and, while there were a few positive signs during the ODI series against NZ, his keeping could do with a touch more refinement. I think Saeed Ajmal could be a key factor. Overseas spinners have done well in SA in the recent past. Herath played a key role when Sri Lanka beat the Proteas in Durban and Graeme Swann was England's man of the series the last time England toured South Africa.
Paraze asked:
Has the squad been finalized for the first test? Is Amla still injured or is he playing?
Jason answered:
Amla has been declared fit. The only question mark is around Robin Peterson who will have a fitness test later today.
Kevin asked:
Protea''s seem to have the complete team. Are there any chinks in our armour that we need to worry about?
Jason answered:
I think there is still a question mark around the number seven position and if our spin options are strong enough. There is also a question mark around our fast bowling depth. Rory Kleinveldt has shown some potential at test level but, with Marchant de Lange still making his way back from injury, an out and out speedster would be required if Steyn or Morkel were to suffer an injury.
Pops asked:
Can the Proteas cope with the spin threat that the Pakis have and do we have a replacement for the the allround options Kallis offers us
Jason answered:
I have talked about Pakistan's spinners in other answers. The simple answer as to who will replace Kallis is no one! There isn't another all-rounder in SA who can bat in the top four and bowl at 140km/h. However, if Kallis was to miss a game or two the fact that AB de Villiers keeps wicket means that SA have the luxury of picking a specialist batsman at seven or bringing in another bowler depending on conditions.
Mike Hirst asked:
Robbie Peterson has proved to be our best spinner with added value in his solid batting. Do you think it was necessary to add Tahir to the squad considering Pakistans strength against spin.
Jason answered:
Peterson is South Africa's first choice spinner but he has a hand injury. Tahir has been added to the squad as cover.
Hugh Jacoc asked:
Hi Jason, Steyn''s effectiveness opening the bowling with Morkel is much more potent. When opening the bowling with Philander, Vernon is doing a fantastic job of cleaning the opposition up while Steyn softens them up from the other end.

I''d like to see some rotation with Morkel given a few overs opening with Philander coming on first change and vice versa. What is your opinion on this? How though could you justify keeping the ball out of Vernon''s hands given his amazing record!?
Jason answered:
I think you've answered your own question Hugo.How could you justify taking the new ball away from Vernon! Vernon is also at his most effective when the ball is still new and the seam has not been worn down. Morkel and Philander did open the bowling against England with Steyn first change so the Proteas have shown they are flexible if required.
Desmond asked:
Hi Jason.Are we looking at including a spinner in the Newlands Test or will it be an all out seam attack.
Jason answered:
South Africa have shown in the recent past that they like to have a spinner in their team and unless it is a complete greentop I can see a spinner being selected at Newlands.

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