Theunis de Bruyn’s spot in the South African lineup appears to be under serious threat as the Proteas head to Ranchi for the third and final test against India this weekend. Already 2-0 down in this series, the third test would normally only be of academic interest, but the introduction of the World Test Championship means there are points at stake, and both teams will be taking this as seriously as they did the Vizag and Pune ones.
De Bruyn’s case is an interesting one. Hailed as the next AB in South African cricket circles, he had to wait a long time for his debut despite dominating attacks for fun back home. It came two and a half years ago in Hamilton, and in the unfamiliar position of opener. The Titans star had a nightmare debut- out for a duck in the first, and run out in the second innings after a collision with Hashim Amla.
He has been in and out of the side, and only got a serious chance to cement his place in the starting XI after De Villiers retired, which was on the tough tour to Sri Lanka last year. To his credit, a fighting 101 on a turner in Colombo effectively saved his career, but mixed returns against Pakistan in the home summer and now away in India, means that his position is under threat again.
After 11 tests, De Bruyn only averages a measly 18.95. Half of them have been played away from home. Given South Africa’s representational requirements, and the fact that Zubayr Hamza is waiting in the wings, De Bruyn looks like the person most likely to be axed ahead of the home summer.
A look at the tests played by Theunis de Bruyn since he was first called up to the #Proteas back in Dec 2016 #sscricket #INDvSA
🇱🇰 2016 ❌❌❌
🇳🇿 2017 ❌❌P
🏴 2017 P ❌❌ P
🇧🇩 & 🇿🇼2017 ❌❌❌
🇦🇺 2018 P P ❌❌
🇱🇰 2018 ❌P
🇵🇰 2018 P P P
🇮🇳 2019 P P ❓
— thecricketblog (@thecricblogger) October 16, 2019
South Africa’s batting has been very fragile in recent years- skipper Faf du Plessis is the only one to average more than 40 away from home, and the likes of Quinton De Kock, Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma all have poorer numbers compared to even yesteryear all-rounder Shaun Pollock, who was known more for his bowing than his skills with the willow.
The Proteas’ next test doesn’t get any easier- they host England after the India series. If the pitches assist fast bowling, as they’ve tended to in the recent past, the likes of Jofra Archer will be licking their lips at the prospect of bowling to this fragile South African batting line up.
In our opinion, De Bruyn must be given the Ranchi test, and possibly all of the England series at home before making a call on his future. He must be told that he has five tests to prove his worth, but will not be dropped midway- stability often plays a big role in player performances.
De Bruyn’s even undergone laser surgery earlier this year, and in a sport so dependent on hand-eye co-ordination, his numbers should definitely improve, as we’ve seen it happen for Ross Taylor.
His performances in India haven’t been too bad, but it’s been a case of getting himself out rather than the opposition bowlers doing so. It’s a trait that can be rectified, and hopefully South Africa can get the next AB that they’ve been so desperately searching for.