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Ken Borland

Erwee about to be dished up not a creamy prawn pasta but his long-awaited debut

Posted on March 09, 2022 by Ken

Sarel Erwee will head to the Hagley Oval in Christchurch next Thursday feeling he is on the verge of being dished up something he has waited a long time for.

And no, it is not a creamy prawn pasta, his favourite meal, at one of the Italian restaurants that surround Hagley Park, to break the monotony of room service in their MIQ hotel.

Instead, it could be a long-awaited Test debut for the 32-year-old as he replaces Keegan Petersen, who most unfortunately had to miss the tour to New Zealand due to a positive Covid test. Proteas captain Dean Elgar recommended the left-handed Erwee as the fill-in No.3 batsman for the second time on Thursday.

“Sarel has been part and parcel of the squad for over a year now, so he’s maybe the favourite to come in,” Elgar said. “Zubayr Hamza has also scored a lot of runs for SA A, so I would say it’s between those two.

“Sarel is a great team man, he’s rolled a lot of energy into his 12th man duties, he’s earned respect, and if there is a pecking order than I would think he’s next in line.”

Erwee’s batting is stuffed with the same sort of determination and solid defence as his captain. The son of a formidable Natal rugby centre, he is not a small man either and brings a certain presence to the crease.

It will be a tough introduction to international cricket for the Pietermaritzburg product. New Zealand have tended to run rings around their opposition at the Hagley Oval, losing just one of their 10 Tests there. They have been in rampant form in their last four games there – beating Bangladesh and Pakistan by an innings, India by seven wickets and Sri Lanka by 423 runs.

“Their attack may be a little down on pace compared to India’s, but they execute their skills perfectly and use their home conditions to the full,” Elgar said.

“Hagley Oval is known for its pace and bounce, it’s the quickest venue in the country and we know they are going to come out all guns blazing.”

Whatever the final starting XI that gets sent through to CSA by the selectors, the facts of the matter are it is going to be an intense two-Test series. Much like against India, there are going to be frustrations for the Proteas to adapt to on and off the field.

And the Black Caps, the world Test champions, will come hard.

“It’s a bit disappointing that we don’t get to play them a lot because I’ve loved the series I’ve had against them,” Elgar said. “They are fierce competitors who have played brilliant cricket of late.

“It’s going to be a great test for us against a team that is at their peak at the moment. We have a great rivalry with New Zealand.

“The competitiveness of matches against them has been right up there with some of the best. They are a fearsome side and we both play with a lot of pride,” Elgar said.

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