Former South Africa skipper Shaun Pollock believes that the Proteas must persuade swashbuckling batsman AB de Villiers to return to the Test arena if they wish to turn around their batting performance in the near future.
The Faf du Plessis-led side have not been able to perform well with the bat in the ongoing Test series against England. From eight innings so far in the four-Test series, only South African opener Dean Elgar has reached triple figures.
Leading Proteas batsmen like Hashim Amla (246 runs at 35.14) and Temba Bavuma (245 at 35.00) have not been able to contribute as much as expected whereas Quinton de Kock (184 at 26.28) and du Plessis (110 at 22) have been below their best.
"They have been disappointing, even the form players have shown little bits and pieces of what they're capable of, but no one really has gone and gotten big scores consistently," cricket.com.au quoted Pollock as saying.
"Hashim Amla has been okay by his standards, Dean Elgar's got a hundred, Temba Bavuma has been solid without going on to three figures and Faf has shown glimpses. Quinton de Kock hasn't been at his best, while the struggles of Heino Kuhn have been well documented."
"So I think that us a bit of a challenge going forward. They've got Bangladesh coming up at home where they can maybe try and settle things down, but then they've two big tours, India at the end of the year and then Australia after that, those are massive tours," he added.
The Proteas have a busy summer that will see them host Bangladesh, India and Australia in Test series.
Last August, de Villiers took time off to get a number of injuries treated and then suffered an elbow injury that ruled him out of the Test series against Australia.
While he returned to limited-overs cricket for the Proteas in February, he opted out of the Test series in New Zealand in March - an absence he has since extended to the four-Test tour of England in July-August and the succeeding two Tests against Bangladesh.
Pollock believes that Cricket South Africa (CSA) should focus on convincing the 33-year-old to come-back to the Test circuit, if only for the series against India and Australia.
"The bowling line-up looks settled, they've got Keshav Maharaj who has come on in leaps and bounds and maybe even Dale Steyn could be back at some stage we would hope," Pollock said.
"But I definitely think they've got to go down the route of trying to convince AB de Villiers, even if it is just for six months for those two big tours, that he needs to make himself available," he added.
De Villiers has notched up more than 8,000 runs in 106 Tests, including 21 hundreds, two double centuries and 39 half-centuries. He has also amassed 9,319 runs from 222 ODIs and 1,603 runs from 76 T20Is.
The itinerary for India's tour of South Africa is yet to be confirmed, while the Proteas will then host Australia in a four-Test series next March.