Rising South African fast bowling talent Gerald Coetzee is in line to make his Proteas debut when they take on the West Indies in the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Tuesday.
Coetzee was a surprise pick in the squad ahead of Lungi Ngidi, and the 22-year-old is will now get a chance to justify that selection if he cracks the match 11.
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It is a new dawn for the Proteas, after Mark Boucher stepped down from the head coaching role after the T20 World Cup last year, before Malibongwe Maketa stepped in as caretaker coach for the Test series against Australia in December.
Shukri Conrad was then appointed as the new Proteas Test coach, while Rob Walter will take over the white ball teams, and Conrad is already looking to make his mark with the selection of Coetzee.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Coetzee said he was proud to be in the Test side and that it would be his priority going forward.
“Growing up and loving cricket the way that I did, you see that greatness is measured in Test cricket. It is because Test cricket is the hardest and most rewarding format, so for me it is priority” explained Coetzee.
“It is where I want to excel the most. T20 cricket is fun and helps with financial benefits but the purest form for me is Test cricket and I will prioritise it.”
Coetzee could find himself playing alongside star Kagiso Rabada, pace merchant Anrich Nortje and growing all-rounder Marco Jansen, if the Proteas elect to go with an all-out pace attack for the match.
Coetzee was then asked how his bowling pace matched up to his fellow fast bowlers and who his heroes were growing up, while he also admitted that he had become interested in cricket from a young age.
“The quickest I can bowl I am not sure yet, that is a tough question. It is something I want to bring to the team but not something that I want to mainly focus on,” explained Coetzee.
“If you want real pace consistently, I am working towards that and that’s the main aim but it will depend on my physical strength.
“Bowling wise I grew up studying Dale Steyn. I really liked Morne Morkel, but Dale was my hero. His whole persona on the field, aggression and pace, I just wanted to be like him.
Coetzee continued: “I fell in love with cricket from a young age and I decided that I wanted to be a cricketer from about the age of eleven. I gave up everything just to play cricket from that young.
“I went through the ranks and managed to represent the (SA) U19 side which was a privilege. My journey then took me through to the Knights where I have played for (the last) four years.”