Stubbs has the technique to be a No 3 Test batter, says coach Shukri Conrad

Tristan Stubbs will be given an extended run in the no 3 spot in the Proteas Test side.
Tristan Stubbs will be given an extended run in the no 3 spot in the Proteas Test side.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Shukri Conrad says it is “unfair” to pigeonhole Tristan Stubbs as only a limited-overs batter, adding that the broad-shouldered 23-year-old has one of the best techniques in South Africa.

Stubbs will bat at No 3 in the Proteas’ two-match Test series against the West Indies next month, a position previously held by legendary players like Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla, who were known for their patience and solidity. 

In contrast, Stubbs' thunderous and creative hitting has made him a sought-after player in the T20 format. However, Conrad explained there was more to Stubbs’ batting.

“He’s the type of cricketer I want at the top of the order. He’s got all the makings of a top-class No 3 batter. I certainly wouldn’t be giving someone something to do that they aren’t capable of. I’m not hanging him out to dry,” said the Proteas’ Test coach.

“Technically he is one of the best around. It’s unfair that people see him as just a white-ball player. I know it's a different format, but you look at the way he commanded his space during the World Cup — he has imprinted himself on games. 

“We have eight Tests, he’ll get a really good run. I have to keep an eye on the future with this Test squad and he is definitely part of that future.”

Conrad did not feel that playing Stubbs at what is widely regarded as the most important batting position in the Test line-up was a bold move.  He has watched Stubbs closely in the past 18 months and became convinced of Stubbs' ability to play Test cricket successfully during the South Africa A side’s tour to Sri Lanka last year. 

Stubbs made a hundred in the second unofficial “Test” on that tour, batting at No 3 in conditions he’d previously not encountered — slow, low, spinner-friendly pitches.

The Proteas are likely to face similar surfaces in the West Indies and definitely on their next tour to Bangladesh in October. 

Aiden Markram and Tony de Zorzi will open the batting, with skipper Temba Bavuma at No 4 and David Bedingham to slot in at No 5.

Stubbs’ record in the few first-class matches he played last season justifies Conrad’s judgment. Besides an excellent hundred for his provincial team, the EP Warriors, at St George’s Park against a top-quality Central Gauteng Lions attack, Stubbs later in the season scored a triple century in Pietermaritzburg that underlined his ability to bat for a long time. 

He subsequently made his Test debut at Newlands against India, on a pitch unsuitable for a Test match. Conrad joked at the time that he would apologise to Stubbs for picking him in a match in which batting was rendered virtually impossible, and which lasted less than two days.

The 16-man squad selected for the West Indies includes Ryan Rickelton, who missed out on selection for the Indian series last summer, and there is a first call-up to the Test team for Stubbs' teammate at the Warriors, Matthew Breetzke. 

It’s unlikely Breetzke will play in the Caribbean, but with the South Africa A side tour which had been scheduled to that region being cancelled, Conrad felt he needed the extra cover. “Matt’s done really well domestically in the last couple of years. He can open the batting and play anywhere in the top order.”

Besides the absence of Marco Jansen, who will undertake an extended rehab programme, alongside doing technical work on his action, the rest of the bowling unit contains no surprises. 

Conrad said the selection of a second front-line spinner in Dane Piedt would allow the Proteas to have the extra spinner if conditions in the second Test in Guyana — which historically assist spin — are favourable.

The West Indies series is the start of a busy period of Test cricket for the Proteas, where success could see them earn a spot in the 2025 World Test Championship final.

“We have eight Tests to give ourselves the best chance at [qualifying for the final of the World Test Championships] and we probably need to win seven. But every Test series will be challenging. The West Indies are a different kettle of fish in their own country,” said Conrad.

The first Test will be played in Trinidad from August 7, while the second Test in Guyana starts on August 15.

Proteas Test Squad: Temba Bavuma* (capt), David Bedingham, Matthew Breetzke*, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi*, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder*, Lungi Ngidi*, Dane Paterson*, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Tristan Stubbs, Ryan Rickelton, and Kyle Verreynne*. 

* Players who will be attending a training camp in Durban next week.


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