JOHANNESBURG – The new era for the Proteas, one sans Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, started with an interim selection panel headed by the interim Director of Cricket, selecting a couple of squads for a difficult tour to India, that was largely based on experience and good domestic form.
Anrich Nortje, now recovered from a fractured finger that kept him out of the World Cup, Senuran Muthusamy, the Dolphins all-rounder and Rudi Second from the Knights all owe their selections in the Test squad to consistent good form domestically - and in Nortje’s case his explosive pace.
South Africa will head to India next month for a tour that comprises of three T20 internationals, and three Tests, the latter series representing both India and SA’s first forays into the ICC’s new World Test Championship.
For the 30-year-old Second, his selection is the culmination of eight years of hard work at domestic level, largely out of the public eye owing to his decision to stay in Bloemfontein. However in the last three years he has certainly elevated his game, especially his batting, adding composure and consistency to a polished and unfussy technique.
While most of the plaudits for the Knights’ triumph in the four-day series in 2016-17 went to their new-ball bowlers; Marchant de Lange and Duanne Olivier, Second’s contribution with the bat, was significant that season. He scored 684 runs at an average of 48.84. The following season, he was even better scoring over 800 runs at an average of 80, although last season his output dropped to 421 runs at an average 42.10.
One notable feather in Second’s cap was his success for the SA A team in India last year when he scored 235 runs in three innings at an average 78.33 against India A. He and Zubayr Hamza were the A side’s best batsmen on a tour where others struggled.
Muthusamy’s selection is also just reward for his steady progress over the last three years, and with Dane Piedt he will boost the support for Keshav Maharaj in the spin department. Piedt was superb last summer for the Cobras picking up 54 wickets in 10 four-day matches and will be chomping at the bit to add to his seven Test caps, the last of which was three years ago.
Muthusamy’s left-arm spin allied with his solidity with the bat will provide the Proteas with depth in both departments. He had an outstanding summer in 2017-18 scoring 582 runs for the Dolphins in the four-day competition, to which he added 33 wickets.
Bjorn Fortuin and Temba Bavuma who both starred for the Highveld Lions in the T20 Challenge at the end of last season, were called up to the squad for the T20 series, although there was strangely no room for Dale Steyn, JP Duminy or Imran Tahir, who are all still available for selection in the shortest format.
SA Test squad:
Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma (vice-capt), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second.
SA T20 squad:
Quinton de Kock (capt), Rassie van der Dussen (vice-capt), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.@shockerhess