Selectors keep faith with Proteas squad
SOUTH Africa will launch their assault on test cricket’s No1 spot in England over the next two months with only one specialist wicketkeeper.
Cricket South Africa on Wednesday named a squad of 15 players who will play three tests against England at The Oval, Headingley and Lord’s.
The selectors have kept faith with the squad which swept to a convincing 1-0 series victory in New Zealand.
The only real surprise is the decision not to include a wicketkeeper back-up to Mark Boucher. AB de Villiers will assume the role if Boucher is injured. But with the ball swinging as much as it does in England glovework can be tricky and the job is normally left to specialists. De Villiers is also reluctant to perform the role in test cricket.
There was speculation that Cricket SA’s other contracted wicketkeeper, Thami Tsolekile, would be included in the group to feed off Boucher’s knowledge and experience in the 35-year-old’s last series before he retires after the England series.
However, the England series may not be Boucher’s last if his recent comments are anything to go by.
The 147-test veteran said he was ready to retire after the final test at Lord’s but would consider staying for the November series against Australia if coach Gary Kirsten asked him to.
The series against England starts on July 19 with the final test due to finish on August 20. England are ranked No 1 in test cricket and South Africa No 2.
“The players fully deserve a vote of confidence after the outstanding manner in which they outplayed New Zealand away from home,” said Cricket SA selection convener Andrew Hudson.
“We are now building up excellent depth in batting and bowling. This was highlighted by JP Duminy’s century when he was called up as an 11th hour replacement for Jacques Kallis.”
“I believe most other countries would be very happy to have the fast-bowling resources we have at the moment. Marchant de Lange has been most impressive since his outstanding debut against Sri Lanka while Lonwabo Tsotsobe gives us a left-arm option.”
Hudson said captain Graeme Smith had recovered following an operation and had already had two batting sessions with Kirsten.
Johan Botha (knee injury) has been forced to withdraw from the Twenty20 series starting next week in Zimbabwe. Hashim Amla will take over the captaincy and the squad will be reduced to 14 players.
The test squad for England:
Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla (Dolphins), Mark Boucher (Cobras), Marchant de Lange (Titans), AB de Villiers (Titans), JP Duminy (Cobras), Imran Tahir (Lions), Jacques Kallis (Cobras), Morne Morkel (Titans), Alviro Petersen (Lions), Robin Peterson (Cobras), Vernon Philander (Cobras), Jacques Rudolph (Titans), Dale Steyn (Cobras), Lonwabo Tsotsobe (Dolphins).