South Africa still unsure over two selections ahead of third test
By Nick Said
CAPE TOWN, March 21 (Reuters) - South Africa are still unsure over two selections ahead of the crucial third test against Australia at Newlands on Thursday as captain Faf du Plessis hailed the "fair" process that made fast bowler Kagiso Rabada available for the game.
Du Plessis revealed on Wednesday that all-rounder Chris Morris and seamer Duanne Olivier had been released from the expanded 17-man squad, but that the home side were still mulling over two positions.
Middle-order batsman Temba Bavuma is fit again after a finger injury and is contesting a place with Theunis de Bruyn, who played in the first two tests but averaged only 19.
"We have a lot of confidence in Temba, he has not had a lot of cricket recently but the quality is there and it is a good ground for him," Du Plessis told reporters of Bavuma, who scored his only test century at Newlands against England in 2016.
The other position under discussion is that of seamers Lungi Ngidi and the more experienced Morne Morkel, with the former struggling with a toe problem having taken a match aggregate of 5-75 in the second test victory in Port Elizabeth.
"Lungi bowled really well in the previous game, but he has got a bit of a toe problem. If he is not 100 percent then it is not a difficult decision," Du Plessis said.
Morkel announced he would retire from all forms of international cricket after this series, and currently sits on 297 test wickets.
Du Plessis added that selection discussions always involve ensuring the side meets the transformation goals of Cricket South Africa.
"The first priority will be to try and get those balances if there are injuries or stuff that don't play a part.
"But there are also always exceptions and horses for courses. It is important for me to always have that in the back of my mind."
South Africa's chances of winning the test series were boosted by the availability of Rabada, who had a two-game suspension overturned on appeal by independent Judicial Commissioner Michael Heron on Tuesday.
Australia captain Steve Smith, who was involved in the incident that saw Rabada handed three demerit points in the second test, was critical of the decision to reduce the bowler's punishment, but Du Plessis believes the outcome was the right one.
"I wish I had this judge with me in Australia!" Du Plessis joked in reference to a sanction of three demerit points he received for alleged ball tampering in 2016.
"It's good for the game. I don't see a problem with having a fair system where a neutral guy sits and makes a decision after listening to both parties. There should be a fair process." (Reporting Editing by Christian Radnedge)