Batsman Zubayr Hamza will become the 100th post-isolation Proteas Test cricketer if named in the XI for the series opener against Pakistan at SuperSport Park in Centurion this week.
Hamza has been named in a squad without all-rounder Vernon Philander and seamer Lungi Ngidi. Both have been sidelined by injury.
Batsmen Theunis de Bruyn has been cleared to play after recovering from the back pain that ruled him out of the bulk of the Mzansi Super League, while fellow right-hander Temba Bavuma’s participation remains in the balance due to a hurt hamstring.
‘I try not to focus on those sorts of things. The number on my cap won’t be important. All that will matter is the badge on the front,’ Hamza told Cricbuzz.
The talented 23-year-old is being touted as a long-term replacement for the veteran Hashim Amla, who scored just 40 runs in the recent series defeat against Sri Lanka – and hasn’t struck a Test century against a team other than minnows Bangladesh in almost two years.
‘Hashim is not going anywhere and still has a lot to offer. Class is permanent and he is pure class. I’m patient. I have time on my side. For now, I’m just happy to be a part of the squad and learn as much as I can,’ he added.
‘I grew up idolising Hashim Amla. He has been a hero of mine for most of my life. Just to be spoken about in the same sentence as him is a great honour.’