Former England captain Nasser Hussain warned that South Africa cannot be ruled out despite the absence of captain Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers. “Any England captain will tell you, do not write off South Africa in England,” he said, “With the likes of (Hashim) Amla and (Kagiso) Rabada, (Vernon) Philander, (Morne) Morkel, you put their side down on paper and they are a very very good cricketing side.”
Hussain said in a video on HindustanTimes.com that the absence of De Villiers is a “big loss” for South Africa. De Villiers had opted to stay out of Test cricket so as to keep himself fit for the shorter formats of the game. Faf Du Plessis, who took over as captain of South Africa from De Villiers, could not travel to England for their first Test at Lord’s due to family reasons. Hussain said that the absence of De Villiers may have been smoothed out over the past couple of years with South Africa winning a series in Australia.
“De Villiers is a big loss. They will argue that they’ve lived on without De Villiers through the last year or so and they’ve moved themselves up,” said the former England captain, “They’ve played some very good cricket. They have beaten Australia three times, India, they’ve played well all around the world. They travel well, they’ve got a good record in England.”
Hussain then reiterated that De Villiers is always a big space to fill in the dressing room and is a “massive” loss. De Villiers’ decision to stick with his decision and not travel to England for the series was deemed to be a “red flag” for the future of Test cricket by the MCC World Cricket committee. “AB is a slightly unique situation but it is another red flag [for Test cricket],” said former New Zealand captain and MCC committee member Brendon McCullum, “We feel the development of these T20 leagues around the world has put a lot of pressure on players to make decision when the Test game is actually in really good stead. Last year’s statistics of 48 wins out of 52 Tests played shows that, but it is important we look at the long-term sustainability of Test cricket ensuring it is still loved around the world. There is a feeling that in some countries Test cricket is under pressure.”