CAPE TOWN – Dolphins all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy and Knights wicket-keeper batsman Rudi Second were the two surprise names to be called up to the Proteas Test squad on Tuesday for the upcoming tour of India.
There was also a recall of sorts for Warriors fast bowler Anrich Nortje, who missed the World Cup through injury.
Interim Proteas team director Enoch Nkwe will begin a new era in South African cricket with a couple of fresh faces in Muthusamy, Nortje and Second, who will have to cope with the tough conditions of the sub-continent, following the retirements of Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn.
Captain Faf du Plessis will continue with his role, but he will have a new lieutenant in Lions batsman Temba Bavuma, who has been appointed as the vice-captain of the Test side.
The rest of the squad is a fairly familiar looking one, with the likes of Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Bavuma among the batsmen, and Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi leading the pace attack.
Off-spinners Keshav Maharaj and Dane Piedt will have the Dolphins all-rounder Muthusamy as another tweaker to work with, while Second could bolster the batting line-up and be a back-up gloveman to Quinton de Kock.
Knights batsman Keegan Petersen, though, can count himself unlucky to miss out after he ended last season as the leading run-scorer in the domestic four-day arena.
Speaking of De Kock, the star keeper will lead the T20 International squad, with Rassie van der Dussen chosen as the vice-captain as Cricket South Africa look to build leadership depth in the limited-overs formats.
“All three newcomers to the Test side have more than earned their spurs through impressive performances in last season’s Four-Day Franchise competition,” Cricket SA’s acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl said on Tuesday.
“We feel we have covered all the options for the conditions we are likely to encounter on the sub-continent with Muthusamy and Dane Piedt, who was far and away the leading wicket-taker in our four-day competition, providing the back-up to Keshav Maharaj.
“Zubayr Hamza made an impressive start to his Test career against Pakistan last season when Faf du Plessis was ruled out, and the retirement of Hashim Amla creates a further opportunity for him.
“The T20 Series gives us the last chance to have a look at our leadership and batting options as the next edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is now little more than a year away, which is why we have gone with an inexperienced leadership group. This is our last chance to do this before we settle on an established squad.
“I would like to stress that Faf du Plessis remains an important part of our plans for white-ball cricket.
“As far as the T20 squad is concerned, Temba Bavuma and Bjorn Fortuin were two of the stand-out players in the CSA T20 Challenge last season, while Nortje was outstanding in the Mzansi Super League until ruled out by injury.
“The T20 Series gives us the last chance to have a look at our leadership and batting options as the next edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is now little more than a year away which is why we have gone with an inexperienced leadership group." - Corrie van Zyl pic.twitter.com/zb2W35DCvM
“This is very much a form squad, with players being rewarded for their consistent performances at franchise level. This applies equally to Junior Dala and Jon-Jon Smuts.”
Cricket SA said that all-rounder Chris Morris did not make himself available for selection, while Markram, Theunis de Bruyn and Ngidi were not considered for the T20I squad as they will prepare for the Test series by playing for South Africa A against India A.
The three T20I games will be played from 15-22 September, while the three-Test series starts on 2 October.
Tests: Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain), 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.
T20 Internationals: Quinton de Kock (captain), Rassie van der Dussen (vice-captain), 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.