CAPE TOWN – Perhaps due to the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Kagiso Rabada and the fitness of Dale Steyn, the Proteas selectors have added Duanne Olivier and Chris Morris to the squad for the final two Tests against Australia.
Rabada will hear his appeal on Monday against the sanction of three demerit points imposed on him by the International Cricket Council for the Steve Smith “Shouldergate” incident, which resulted in him being suspended for the two Test matches at Newlands and the Wanderers.
Steyn, meanwhile, is making his way back from a heel injury he sustained against India in January, and he is likely to play for the Titans in a Sunfoil Series clash against the Knights in Centurion on Thursday – the same day as the start of the third Test at Newlands.
So, the 34-year-old Steyn is targeting the fourth Test at the Wanderers on March 30 as a more realistic goal.
“Circumstances have forced us to name a large squad at this stage so that we can cover all possible options,” national selector convenor Linda Zondi said in a statement on Sunday.
“Once we have finalised our playing XI, we will release players to their franchises for the final round of the Sunfoil Series.
“We have retained the 15 players who produced an excellent performance to level the Test Series in Port Elizabeth.
“Olivier was the pick of our bowlers for South Africa A in their tour match against Australia, while Morris has been in excellent form in domestic cricket, taking four wickets in an innings and making more than 150 runs – including a century – for the Titans in the Sunfoil Series against the log-leading Warriors.”
But if Rabada is not cleared to play following his appeal, Morné Morkel is likely to come into the starting XI in his place at Newlands, which is a much-anticipated clash with the series locked at 1-1 – the Proteas squared the series with a six-wicket win in Port Elizabeth after Australia won by 118 runs in Durban.
Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morné Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.