South Africa's wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers says New Zealand will feel under pressure to play paceman Neil Wagner in the second Test but believes that will make their attack too predictable.
Ironically for New Zealand, who were shot out for 45 in their innings and 27 run defeat in the first Test at Newlands, there are more head-scratchers around the makeup of their bowling lineup for tomorrow's second test at Port Elizabeth (9.30pm NZT).
Left-armer Wagner, who went to school with de Villiers in Pretoria, is a contender for a pace bowling spot, possibly at Chris Martin's expense.
Wagner played the last of his two tests in the West Indies in August but bowled another hostile spell in the nets today alongside Trent Boult, and could be effective on a dryer, slower surface at St George's Park with his ability to generate reverse swing.
De Villiers rates Wagner as a cricketer but wouldn't play him here, due to Boult and all-rounder James Franklin also being left-armers.
"They lost the first Test match so they might be under a bit of pressure to play him [Wagner]. He's a wonderful bowler, we all know that. Personally I wouldn't do it because of the amount of left-handers that would be in the attack," de Villiers said.
"But you never know. We know he's a skilful bowler and he picks up wickets consistently back in New Zealand. I saw him at a very young age performing really well with bat and ball so he's a capable cricketer. I expect him to do well in his international career."
Are the Proteas trying a bit of reverse psychology here? There's no doubt that Neil Wagner is a proven performer in domestic cricket, but he has yet to play his way into the team on form at international level. He is an exciting prospect, bowls fast, and with some much-needed aggression. And if he were to come in to replace Chris Martin, both the New Zealand fielding and batting stocks would improve.
There's certainly a case to drop Jeetan Patel after the Cape Town test. His bowling rarely threatened the South Africans, and his second innings batting performance in particular was woeful as he backed away from the rising ball. Left-armer Bruce Martin might be a better bet for Port Elizabeth.
Anyway, the Proteas should stick to their knitting, and let New Zealand pick its own side. They are already mentally way ahead of their opponents, and there's no need for them to play silly buggers; the Black Caps management is already well capable of that as has been demonstrated amply over the last few months!