Cape Town - AB de Villiers returns to the specialist role of
wicketkeeper/batsman for the first two matches of the four-match Test Series
against England starting at Kingsmead in Durban on December 26.
The Cricket South Africa (CSA) national selectors on
Thursday named a squad of 13 players for the first two matches. The second
match will be played at Newlands from January 2.
De Villiers did keep wicket during last season’s home series
against the West Indies when Quinton de Kock was injured but, before that, had
not kept wicket in a Test match since the 2013-14 home series against
Both De Kock and Dane Vilas - who kept wicket in one Test
match in Bangladesh this year and then throughout the recent series in India - will
turn out for South Africa ‘A’ in their fixture against England next weekend.
Vilas will captain the side and keep wicket, while De Kock will bat at No 4.
De Villiers’ return to an all-rounder role will enable Temba
Bavuma to return to his normal batting position in the middle-order, while Dean
Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl will resume their opening batting partnership at the
top of the order.
Uncapped Rilee Rossouw has been included in the Test squad
as the extra batsman while Dane Piedt is the only spinner selected with both
Simon Harmer and Imran Tahir dropping out from the squad that went to India.
With Vernon Philander on the injury list, Kyle Abbott
retains his place in the four-man fast bowling attack along with Dale Steyn,
Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.
“One of the issues that concerned us during the tour to
India was the lack of depth to our batting, particularly in the lower order and
the change in AB’s role means that we can now have a specialist batsman at No.
7,” commented CSA selection convener, Linda Zondi.
“We now feel that the side has a much better balance about
it without in any way reducing the tactical options available to our captain,
“The return to South African conditions made it inevitable
that we would only choose one specialist spinner with JP Duminy and Elgar both
available as back-up and Dane (Piedt) is the man in possession.
“Our batting line-up has served us well in the past in
matches under our own conditions and I am confident they will be ready for the
challenge in what is going to be a very tough series in which experience will
play a vital role.”
Proteas Test squad: Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras, captain), AB
de Villiers (Titans, vice-captain), Kyle Abbott (Dolphins), Temba Bavuma (Highveld
Lions), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Faf du Plessis (Titans), Dean Elgar (Titans),
Morne Morkel (Titans), Dane Piedt (Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld
Lions), Rilee Rossouw (Knights), Dale Steyn (Cape Cobras), Stiaan van Zyl (Cape
South Africa 'A' squad: Stephen Cook (Highveld Lions), Reeza
Hendricks (Knights), Rilee Rossouw (Knights), Quinton de Kock (Titans), Omphile
Ramela (Cape Cobras), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins), Dane Vilas (Cape Cobras, captain,
wicketkeeper), Wayne Parnell (Cape Cobras), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Chris
Morris (Titans), Marchant de Lange (Titans)