Home Sport Cricket One more shot for Mulder in Proteas all-rounder role

One more shot for Mulder in Proteas all-rounder role


Wiaan Mulder is likely to play all four Tests scheduled for the two tours, to the Caribbean and Bangladesh.

Wiaan Mulder of South Africa will get another shot at nailing down the all-rounder spot for the Proteas. File Picture: Christiaan Kotze, BackpagePix

THE SEARCH for the ideal Proteas all-rounder, particularly in Test cricket, has been long and a dismal failure thus far.

When the great Jacques Kallis called time on his career, there was optimism that the pipeline would pump out yet another prodigy of his kind.

Over a decade later, following Test coach Shukri Conrad’s announcement of the squad to travel to the Caribbean for a two-match Test series next month, it is clear that South Africa has abandoned that search.

Perhaps that decade has helped the system come to terms with the fact that Kallis was one of a kind. It is important to note that it is not only South African cricket that is battling to solve this genuine all-rounder puzzle as all Test-playing nations have not come close to successfully cloning a Kallis-like species.

Nonetheless, by now the pipeline should have at least given the Proteas a solid No.7, a batting position for which South Africa has been struggling to find a suitable candidate. In the past five years, Wiaan Mulder has taken that position and failed. Subsequently, Dwaine Pretorius was awarded the opportunity and did very little to stake a claim.

This went on until Marco Jansen came into the picture. The 24-year-old has been auditioning for the role for the past three years. Despite a handful of gritty innings at seven, including two half-centuries, coach Conrad himself has publicly admitted that Jansen is not quite a No.7, yet.

Looking around the world, the No.7 position is occupied by the likes of Ben Foakes, Alex Carey and Ravindra Jadeja, all players who have Test centuries in that position.

With the Proteas’ best candidate, Jansen, being rested for the Test trips to the Caribbean and Bangladesh in the next three months, Mulder is likely to play all four Tests scheduled for the two tours.

With a batting average hovering around 15 and no batting milestone to speak of in 21 Test innings in a five-year career, the 26-year-old might just be auditioning for the last time for the all-rounder position in Tests.

The thought of the Saints alumni donning the baggy green once again, despite it being on the back of yet another stellar set of domestic performances including winning the 4-day Series, is not very reassuring.

After a thorough look at domestic cricket, the names of Jason Smith, Patrick Kruger, Beyers Swanepoel and Migael Pretorius spring to mind as the up-and-coming all-rounders, with Kruger and Smith possessing better batting credentials.

If you want to push it, you could look at 25-year-old Dolphins all-rounder Bradley Porteous.

Ultimately, the role of genuine all-rounder in the Proteas Test side remains vacant and up for grabs for the deserving candidate.

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