New Proteas coach Shukri Conrad opens up on tough Test selection calls

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Not only was Temba Bavuma named the new Test captain in place of Dean Elgar, Conrad also made the tough decision to drop Lungi Ngidi in favour of up-and-coming talent Gerald Coetzee. Coetzee is certainly a bowler on the up, as he showed by 17-wicket haul in the recent SA20, but it's still a big step for a player who got his first taste of the national side when he toured with the squad to Australia at the end of the year. "It's quite simple for me. I believe Gerald Coetzee needs a good run," Conrad told the press on Friday. "We're all aware of his promise and he holds. Now's as good a time as ever to to unleash him, for want of a better expression.Without giving too much away, I'd like to believe I'll be in a position to play all our quicks in Centurion and depending on what the Wanderers conjures up, that starting XI might change. "It's purely Gerald ahead of Lungi for me right now. That's why I've gone for him." Another surprise call was the decision to drop Kyle Verreynne, who emerged as the second-highest scorer for the Proteas in Australia, in favour of Heinrich Klaasen. Once again, Conrad was honest about his reasoning, confessing he prefers what Klaasen offers. "Kyle's omission was tough but ultimately I get paid to make certain calls and subjectivity plays a part. This was my conversation with Kyle. He's done everything that can be expected. But I think Klaasie has done more and deserves a full crack," he said. "Klaasie is, in my opinion, not just a batter that we can stick in the field. He's been battling with an elbow because he's been forced to be in the field a lot of the time. I've always viewed him as a wicketkeeper-batter, so for me it was a straight shootout as to who I wanted. And that's Klaasie. "That's unfortunate for someone like Kyle. The door is certainly not closed to him." Conrad also had to make the tough decision to drop aging trio Rassie van der Dussen, Khaya Zondo and Sarel Erwee, although he insisted the door was not closed for any of them. "I don't think anybody's in a position ever to say there's no way back. You can never say never. but the change had to be made and we've made them. There's always a way in. And that was my conversation with those three players," he said. "What must they do to get back in? That was communicated to them. Obviously scoring a mountain of runs in domestic cricket at a good strike-rate - that, for me, is critical. If batters want to play at international level, you have to dominate domestically. "And it's not just about the volume of runs you score, it's how you score them. Any coach worth his salt will never turn his back on any of the potential options available to them. You can't say it's the end of the road."

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