- Sarel Erwee and Zubayr Hamza are the two batters vying for Keegan Petersen’s first-drop spot for the New Zealand Test series.
- Hamza’s been capped at Test level, but Erwee has the better numbers in the past three seasons and has been a squad member.
- Petersen was ruled out of the tour because of contracting Covid-19.
Proteas Test skipper Dean Elgar said one of Sarel Erwee or Zubayr Hamza will replace Keegan Petersen at number three for the two-match New Zealand Test series.
While cricketing logic would say Hamza, a natural number three, should step in for Petersen based on being capped before at Test level, Erwee’s claims are impossible to ignore.
Opening for the Dolphins, Erwee has tallied 1 281 runs at an average of 53.38 in the past three seasons with five 100s and five 50s.
Hamza, who missed the 2019/20 summer because of Test duty where he played in three of the four Tests against England, has scored 506 runs at an average of 29.74.
In the South Africa A series where Erwee and Hamza played together, Erwee top-scored for SA with 251 runs at 50.20 with two 50s, while Hamza made 172 runs at 57.33 with one ton (125*).
When Hamza made the 222* for SA A against their Zimbabwe counterparts last year, Erwee was travelling with the Test side in the West Indies.
Elgar said Erwee has been an invaluable addition to their playing group and should be the next batting cab out of the rank.
“Sarel Erwee has been our back-up batter for quite some time and he’s had a few series where he’s been carrying the drinks,” Elgar said.
“He’s been brilliant for us off the field and I would love to think he’d be the one guy who would be coming in.
“In saying that, we have Hamza in to replace KP in the 17 and we also need to see what’s the best option going into these Tests.
“It’s also another opportunity for another person in the squad to make a play for the team and give the selectors a bit of a headache with a good performance.”
With Elgar trumping up Erwee’s claims, it ostensibly means that the in-form Ryan Rickelton will have to wait for his chance.
However, that’s less of a team curveball as compared to losing Petersen for the New Zealand series.
Petersen was starting to come of age in the India series where he grew in confidence against India’s excellent bowling attack.
With New Zealand possessing their own crack bowling unit, Elgar said it would have been nice to see what Petersen was going to offer.
“It’s another curveball that we have to deal with and we’ve become very good at handling them,” Elgar said.
“It’s unfortunate that KP is going to miss out on this trip as I would have loved to see him build on what he started in the India series.
“In these uncertain times, these curveballs come in your direction and you have to deal with them.”