Two uncapped spinners headline large touring party looking for three consecutive series wins on Australian soil
Having taken note of the troubles Australia’s batters have experienced with ‘mystery’ spin bowlers in Asia and again at St George’s Park yesterday, South Africa have named a pair of uncapped tweakers in their 16-man squad for next month’s three-Test series in Australia. Left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who bamboozled Australia’s top-order during Sunday’s fourth consecutive ODI win the for the Proteas, has been included after being part of the South Africa A series in Queensland earlier this year.
And another left-armer, 26-year-old orthodox finger spinner Keshav Maharaj who captured career-best match figures of 13/157 (including 12 wickets in a single day) in South Africa’s domestic first-class competition, has been included despite never having played at international level. Even though the Tests against Australia are scheduled for late spring at fast bowler-friendly Perth, traditional seamer’s conditions at Hobart and an Adelaide Oval pitch likely to carry extra grass to protect the pink ball, South Africa’s selectors have clearly recognised Australia’s frailties against spin. And particularly left-arm spin, as exploited by Sri Lanka’s orthodox spinner Rangana Herath and previously unseen wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan who shared 37 wickets across the three Tests against the team then ranked number one in the world. The fact that South Africa overlooked incumbent Test off-spinner Dane Piedt and will likely rely on part-timer JP Duminy to fill that role suggests they see the left-arm attack as a more potent weapon. “Shamsi has made huge progress over the course of the last year in the longer format,” said Cricket South Africa selection convener Linda Zondi. “He took 41 wickets at an average of less than 20 in seven matches in last season’s Sunfoil Series and he certainly offers something different as an attacking spinner. “Maharaj is also right on top of his game. He took 13 wickets in the Sunfoil Series match at the weekend and also made a run-a-ball 72. “Basically, we are following a horses for courses policy as we feel that spinners who turn the ball away from the right-hander are going to be particularly useful under Australian conditions and against the Test batsmen we are likely to face.”
The remainder of the squad carries a familiar look, albeit without injured regulars AB de Villiers, all-rounder Chris Morris and left-arm quick Wayne Parnell who suffered a side strain during the current ODI series. Not only has de Villiers’ elbow surgery robbed them of their captain and most dynamic batsman, his additional value as back-up wicketkeeper means 31-year-old Dane Vilas has been included. And middle-order batsman Stiaan van Zyl has lost his place to fellow left-hander Rilee Rossouw who impressed as a stand-in opener for the first two matches of the ongoing ODI series. Towering quick Morne Morkel returns to the squad on the basis he successfully makes it through a first-class match for the Titans starting at St. George’s Park tomorrow. Of the 16-man touring party that begins its campaign with a pair of two-day warm-up matches in Adelaide starting October 21, less than half – acting captain Faf du Plessis, opener Dean Elgar, veteran quick Dale Steyn, ex-skipper Hashim Amla, seamers Vernon Philander and Morkel as well as Duminy – have Test match experience in Australia. And despite the resounding dominance the Proteas have wielded over the reigning one-day world champions over the past weeks, fast bowler Kyle Abbott believes it will count for nothing when the first Test begins at the WACA Ground in Perth on November 3. “Our Test side is going to change quite a bit from this (one-day line-up),” Abbott said in the wake of his team’s fourth consecutive one-day win at St George’s Park on Sunday. “We’ve developed our brand of cricket for the ODI guys and the ODI series that we play. “With the new personnel coming in it will be slightly different, but it’s nice that a few of our batsmen that will be playing in the Test series have got some runs under their belt in this ODI series. “But it’s not going to mean anything. “The Aussies in Australia are going to be a different kettle of fish to our home soil.”
South Africa Test squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Dane Vilas.