Harris picked for SA squad

Titans and Warwickshire left-arm spin bowler Paul Harris has been called up to the Proteas Test squad for the remaining two matches at Kingsmead and Newlands, while Titans fast bowler Morné Morkel has been placed on standby for the injured Dale Steyn.

The 28-year-old Harris, who was born in Zimbabwe, joins Paul Adams as the squad's spinners after Nicky Bojé retired from Test cricket last week.

Harris has taken 157 wickets in 44 first-class matches at an average of 28.75, including 17 in four matches in the South African domestic four-day competition this season at 27.94.

Both Harris and Morkel will be new caps if they play. Whether Harris will play at Kingsmead remains to be seen but he is a certain selection for Newlands, where he learned his cricket, at the New Year.

It is something of a landmark selection as Harris is the first player to have made use of the Kolpak ruling to play on the English county circuit and then made himself available for his country again.

Although Harris was born in Zimbabwe, he grew up in Fish Hoek and is a product of the Western Province youth system where he was first spotted by current England coach Duncan Fletcher. He left Western Province for the Titans when his progress was blocked by Claude Henderson.

"We announced the squad for all three Test matches, but Bojé announced his retirement so we had to look for a replacement spinner," said selection chief Haroon Lorgat.

"We decided on Paul Harris after Claude Henderson let us know he was unavailable. We've also asked Morne Morkel to be on standby in case Dale Steyn or Andrew Hall are not fully fit, because I do have a preference for playing 100 percent fit players. Jacques Rudolph and Paul Adams, who were released to play for their franchises, will also rejoin the squad in Durban."

Morkel will also join the squad in Durban. "We prefer to have standby players with us than somewhere on the beach," said Lorgat.

Lorgat said he was saddened by Bojé's decision to retire. Newspaper reports indicated that Bojé made his decision because he was unhappy about comments made by Lorgat that South Africa did not have a match-winning spin bowler.

"I'm sad," said Lorgat. "It's not in my character to make statements to get people to react in that fashion and it's pretty unfortunate. It's not what I intended. I thought I was just speaking facts, that we do not have a spinner that has changed the course of a Test match. I had a long talk to Nicky before I said that, but I have not had the opportunity to talk to him since then."

Lorgat said the decision to include the unorthodox Paul Adams into the squad had been part of a long-term plan to develop South Africa's spin bowling capabilities. "He is the 15th name on the list - Nicky was always our first option.

"Paul Adams is our only wrist spinner with any record.

"I have no doubt that he's got a long way to go before he can make the side, but it's a process we're going through to develop our spin bowling options. Part of that process was to get him back into the franchise squad."

Lorgat reaffirmed his confidence in the team and their ability to bounce back from their defeat. "I think they didn't apply themselves, but I am confident that they will come back and turn us around," he said.

Responding to criticism that senior players had not been able to get some first-class practice by playing for their franchises between the one-day internationals and the first Test, Lorgat said that, given the same circumstances, he would have done the same thing.

South Africa squad:

Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis (vice-captain), Paul Adams, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Paul Harris, André Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel (standby).


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