Cricket South Africa (CSA) is embroiled in crisis and undergoing a major overhaul in administration but cricket cannot stop as the Proteas squad has just been announced for the crucial England series.
Six players in the Proteas Test squad could be handed maiden Test cap in what is going to be a widely watched series starting from December 26 [Boxing Day] in the holiday season with New Year's Eve around the corner.
Faf du Plessis is keen on keeping the focus on cricket and has been rallying his teammates to put up an impressive show against a potent England side.
South Africa is ready to induct six new players into the mix including medium-pacer Dane Paterson, Pieter Malan, Dwaine Pretorius, Rudi Second, Beuran Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen in the high-profile Test championship affair.
Van der Dussen has earned a reputation as a temperamentally strong batsman in white-ball cricket and his ability to soak in pressure at crucial junctures of the game makes him a good fit for the longer format. He has thus far featured in 18 ODIs, amassed 664 runs at a staggering average of 73.77 and has a phenomenal domestic cricket record to show in his resume.
Injury-prone pacer Lungi Ngidi won't be showing his magic with the ball against England owing to a hamstring injury that he picked up during his stint with Tshwane Spartans ahead of the playoff against Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in Mzansi Super League.
Seasoned players including the likes of du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Dean Elgar and vice-captain Temba Bavuma will have to step up from the Proteas side to recover from the whitewash jolt against India and to turn things around against in-form England.
The first Test will take place at the iconic SuperSport Park from December 26 while the second Test is scheduled at Newlands from January 3 to 7.
Wicket-keeper batsman Rudi Second was part of the squad in recent India tour but he didn't play any match due to injury, however, he will take part in the team's training camp starting later this week.
“The high number of uncapped players coming into the squad is a reflection of our policy to acknowledge players who do well at franchise level and have put their hands up for selection,” said CSA Independent Selector, Linda Zondi.
Pretorius is a handy all-rounder who has the coveted ability to swing the ball and he can also chip in with the bat and is expected to add stability and balance to the home side.
Moreover, Van der Dussen has quickly cemented his spot in limited-overs cricket as he's a solid middle-order batsman who seldom gifts his wicket to the opposition and Test cap was always on the cards for the late bloomer.
“Van der Dussen, who is third on the current four-day batting averages, and Pretorius, who has established himself as the leading all-rounder, are clear examples of this," added Linda Zondi.
“Following the same trend Paterson has been the second leading wicket-taker in four-day cricket this season, including a 7-wicket haul in an innings, and we want to go into the Test series will a full arsenal of fast bowlers who have always provided one of our traditional strengths.
Hendricks is another inspired selection, he can bowl in the late 140s and is regarded as a wicket-taking option with his ability to spear in and outswingers. He took a wicket against Pakistan in the 3rd ODI in January 2019 at Centurian and kept things tight on his ODI debut.
“Beuran Hendricks is also part of this strategy and adds variety to the attack as a left-arm swing bowler.
Malan played in the Under-19 WorldCup in 2008 and since then has been toiling hard in domestic cricket and finally gets an opportunity to break into the side. The opening batsman has maintained an average of 45 in his first-class career and is replacing injured Markram.
“Malan has been one of the most consistent runs scorers in franchise cricket for many seasons now and, as a specialist opening batsman, he provides cover for Markram, while Second provides cover in the wicketkeeping department and is a top-order batsman in his own right.
Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Beuran Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Pieter Malan, Aiden Markram, Zubayr Hamza, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second, Rassie van der Dussen
Head coach: Mark Boucher, Assistant coach: Enoch Nkwe, Team manager: Volvo Masubelele, Fielding coach: Justin Ontong, Strength and Conditioning coach: Tumi Masekela