In his franchise career of just 14 matches, Ottneil Baartman’s 36 wickets have been priced at 32.33 runs apiece and this season, following his move from the Knights to the Dolphins, he has taken only seven wickets in four matches at the expensive average of 45.57.
They are hardly figures that suggest he should be called up for a Test debut, but on Friday the 27-year-old paceman was named in the Proteas squad for the upcoming two-match series in Pakistan.
The reason for Baartman’s selection is linked to South Africa’s quest for the next Vernon Philander or at least someone who can fulfil the same role as the great Cape Cobras seamer.
Glenton Stuurman is the successor elect, but having been called up for the Test series against Sri Lanka, he suffered a thigh strain which not only cost him a probable debut but also a place on the tour to Pakistan.
Baartman is a bowler in a similar mould to the highly-rated Stuurman – not of express pace, but skilful and accurate, an old-fashioned seam bowler. Convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang used the words “steady” and “control” when he discussed the characteristics that made the selectors choose Baartman.
Stuurman and Baartman both hail from Oudtshoorn and played in the same South-Western Districts Schools side in 2010. They have only a small percentage of the pace of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, but the selectors have brought in cover in the extreme speed department by choosing Daryn Dupavillon.
The 26-year-old Dupavillon made a surprise ODI debut against Australia in March, being a late call-up, and now he is included in the Test squad for the first time.
Injuries have restricted him to just two four-day matches this season, but he has taken 11 wickets, including a devastating seven for 38 against the powerful Knights batting line-up.
While the conditions in the Test venues of Karachi and Rawalpindi are tricky to predict, chances are they will be spin friendly and South Africa have also covered their bases by choosing three frontline spinners.
Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj is the incumbent first-choice, but there is an attacking wrist-spinner in support in Tabraiz Shamsi and a spin bowling all-rounder in George Linde.
Only one Test has been played in Karachi’s National Stadium in the last 10 years, with Pakistan’s three quick bowlers having shared 16 wickets as Sri Lanka were beaten by 263 runs in December 2019.
Rawalpindi hosted a drawn Test against Sri Lanka in the same month, but only eight wickets fell in a rain-ruined match. Pakistan beat Bangladesh by an innings there in February last year, with fast bowler Naseem Shah named man-of-the-match.
“One spinner is enough on the Highveld, but in Pakistan, judging by how pitches have played in the past and being on the subcontinent, we expect turn,” Mpitsang said.
“We have covered our bases with three guys who have done well domestically. Pakistan have also had success with reverse-swing so we have covered for that as well.
“It’s good to have KG Rabada back, Anrich Nortje has been leading the attack and Lungi Ngidi has made an exciting comeback.
“We’ve brought in Daryn Dupavillon as extra back-up. He brings pace and reverse-swing and it’s good to have that extra pace.”
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Sarel Erwee, Rassie van der Dussen, Keegan Petersen, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Kyle Verreynne, Temba Bavuma, Wiaan Mulder, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks, Daryn Dupavillon, Ottneil Baartman.