TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THE inclusion of uncapped batsman Theunis de Bruyn and the return from injury of allrounder Wayne Parnell were the major features of the South African squad announced on Wednesday for the first two tests against Sri Lanka.
AB de Villiers, Rilee Rossouw, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn were not considered because of injuries.
The squad of 13 does not include Dwaine Pretorius – who replaced Steyn in Australia – Tabraiz Shamsi and Dane Vilas, who were all part of the 16 at the end of the tour Down Under.
“De Bruyn is the latest player to be rewarded for consistently good form at franchise and South Africa A level,” a release quoted Cricket South Africa selection convener Linda Zondi as saying.
“He has an outstanding first-class career average of 48.73 (six centuries) and has made 423 runs at 60.42 in this season’s (franchise first-class) competition.”
How De Bruyn or Parnell might earn a spot in a team who have won three of their last five tests while losing only one, and in the process regained much of the ground the lost in a disappointing 2-14-15 campaign, is difficult to fathom.
“As far as the overall squad is concerned they deserve the fullest vote of confidence for their performances in the two recent test series against New Zealand and Australia and we are looking forward to more of the same against Sri Lanka,” Zondi was quoted as saying.
Even what could have been the messy business of taking the captaincy away from stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis, who led South Africa to victory in both those series against their Antipodean oppositions, was avoided when the appointed captain, De Villiers, relinquished the reins.
“Credit to AB de Villiers for the smooth way the leadership transition has taken place,” Zondi said. “We certainly look forward to having him back for the limited overs portion of the tour.
“Faf has done an outstanding job in the last two test series and our leadership is in very good hands.”
The Sri Lankan series starts at St George’s Park on December 26.
South Africa test squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.