Cricket 18.2.2014 06:00 am

McLaren could be the scapegoat

SCAPEGOAT? Ryan McLaren is likely to be the fall guy after the Proteas' heavy defeat to Australia in the first Test at Centurion. Picture: Gallo Images.

SCAPEGOAT? Ryan McLaren is likely to be the fall guy after the Proteas' heavy defeat to Australia in the first Test at Centurion. Picture: Gallo Images.

Ryan McLaren’s return to Test cricket – illuminated by a thundering blow on the helmet by Mitchell Johnson –could be a brief one as the Proteas attempt to address their problems ahead of the second Test against Australia in Port Elizabeth starting on Thursday.

National selection convenor Andrew Hudson yesterday admitted that renewed thought regarding the No 7 spot in the line-up was required.

“It’s unlikely that we’ll bring in someone from the outside. We’d rather look for a change inside the squad but we have to re-look at our No 7 position,” said the former international opener.

“We need to examine whether it’s a role for an all-rounder or a frontline spinner. We’re back at that dilemma of how we balance our team for Port Elizabeth conditions, which can be low and slower.”

McLaren was predictably steady, but not particularly effective in his earmarked role as a containment bowling option with the scope for snaffling a few scalps, though Hudson asserted that he’d done nothing wrong.

“We definitely weren’t dissatisfied with his contribution. This debate is merely in terms of the balance of the side. There was even debate around possibility playing an extra batsman. Australia went in batting-heavy and relied on their four frontline options for the bulk of the overs. That’s something we may need to consider,” he said.

Such a course of action would probably see Dean Elgar included but one would be wary as Johnson – at that stage in his comeback Test following a long-term foot injury – gave the Knights stalwart a right royal working-over on his debut in Perth in 2012.

Hudson reiterated Graeme Smith’s call for calm.

“We were quite a bit under-par during the Test. That was the gap we need to close but it’s a quality group of players that have gone through a lot in the last few years.”

 

 

 

 

 

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