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Ken Borland

No guarantee for PE folk buying tickets that Harmer will play

Posted on May 05, 2022 by Ken

The good people of Gqeberha will no doubt be basing, in part, their decision to buy tickets for the second Test between South Africa and Bangladesh starting at St George’s Park on Friday on whether local hero Simon Harmer will be playing, but veteran groundsman Adrian Carter told The Citizen on Tuesday that he can’t guarantee the pitch will support the use of two spinners.

Harmer, who began his professional career playing for Eastern Province in 2009, dovetailed superbly with Keshav Maharaj in the first Test, taking seven wickets in the match, as well as scoring a vital 38 not out in the first innings as South Africa won by 220 runs at Kingsmead.

“St George’s Park has had the reputation for being low and slow, but this pitch is looking very sporty, although we are still a few days out from the Test,” Carter said.

“We’re aware of what South Africa want, so there won’t be too many surprises, but there is a lot of grass still on the pitch. Local opinion amongst the players is that if it seams it will also spin.

“It turns off the grass though, so it’s not sharp fizz like off the clay in India, but the ends are fairly worn because we’ve had a lot of cricket on the field and there should be some purchase.

“There is rain expected on the weekend though and there’s more assistance for the seamers if the Easterly blows, it lifts the grass up a bit. But it needs to be a gentle wind and it needs to be overcast,” Carter said.

If South Africa do bolster their seam attack then Glenton Stuurman, who has taken 29 wickets in nine matches at his new home ground in Gqeberha, could come in for his second Test. He could replace either Duanne Olivier, whose performance was inadequate at Kingsmead, or Wiaan Mulder, who played only a bit part in the first Test and looked extremely uncertain with the bat.

Long-term, Mulder’s place has to be in serious doubt due to his lack of runs – averaging just 14.40 in 15 innings – and there have also been mutterings that CSA could go back to enforcing a quota of six players of colour, including three Black Africans, in every Proteas starting XI and not just as an average over the season.

Mulder would be the most likely player to make way for a player of colour, but the balance of the Proteas side would also be severely affected if that move comes to fruition.

Even if does not, if Harmer wants to have a long-term playing future in the XI, then he is probably going to have to ensure his batting is good enough to fill the No.7 position. It makes perfect sense, however, for the Proteas management to really want him for the England tour, where some of the venues could have turning pitches and he has enjoyed immense success in county cricket.

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