The Proteas have finally named their squad for the upcoming Test series against England just 10 days before the opening match on Boxing Day, with six uncapped players in the group.
Of those six, four have international experience in white-ball formats, while Cobras batsman Pieter Malan and Warriors wicketkeeper Rudi Second could enjoy their first taste of international competition.
- Beuran Hendricks
Hendricks burst onto the domestic scene in the 2010-11 season, bowling at pace and swinging the ball both ways.
Now 29 years old and playing his cricket for the Lions, Hendricks may have lost a yard or two of pace but his guile and sideways movement have ensured that he has been one of the most consistent performers in franchise cricket.
He was first introduced to Proteas fans in 2014, making his T20I debut against Australia, but wasn’t able to nail down a spot in the team. He was recalled to the Proteas set-up earlier this year and made his ODI debut against Pakistan.
Hendricks has taken 295 first-class wickets in 85 matches at an average of 23.63.
- Pieter Malan
Another consistent franchise performer, Malan is arguably the best uncapped batsman in South African first-class cricket.
Malan has shown that he has all the raw ingredients necessary to be a Test player, but has had to wait until after his 30 birthday to receive a Proteas call-up.
He is one of the few members of the squad to have played red-ball cricket in November, turning out for Western Province in the CSA 3-Day Provincial Cup, scoring a ton and putting on 238 with Zubayr Hamza.
Malan can bat anywhere in the top six, but a wrist injury to Aiden Markram could open the door for him to open the batting alongside Dean Elgar.
- Dane Paterson
Paterson has established himself as the leader of the Cape Cobras bowling attack in first-class cricket this season and is second on the four-day competition’s wicket-takers list.
Paterson has made good use of the new ball in franchise cricket this season, extracting a good amount of swing.
He has adjusted his length well in four-day action, but in Test cricket the margin for error is finer. A feature of the new faces in the Proteas squad is that most are first-class veterans. Paterson has already played 100 matches in the multi-day format.
- Dwaine Pretorius
Another late-bloomer, Pretorius could be brought in to beef up the batting in the middle order and contribute a few overs.
The Proteas haven’t had the luxury of fielding an all-rounder in the Test top six for some time, but Pretorius could be the man to break that run.
The Lions seamer has already played 22 ODIs and went to the 2019 World Cup with the Proteas. With five first-class centuries to his name, he has the best batting credentials of the all-rounders in a squad that includes Andile Phehlukwayo and Vernon Philander.
- Rudi Second
The Warriors wicketkeeper is reliable behind the stumps, but has an impressive record with the bat especially in recent seasons.
He starred for South Africa A on their tour of India and had been set to tour the country again with the Proteas just weeks later, but injury robbed him of the opportunity.
Second is capable of playing long innings, but he is also very good at counterattacking. His presence in the squad might allow the Proteas to experiment with Quinton de Kock as a specialist batsman.
Second made his name at the Knights franchise in the Free State before moving back to the Eastern Cape to play for the Warriors at the outset of the season.
Rassie van der Dussen
Van der Dussen is probably the only man in the Proteas set-up to have enhanced his reputation this year, and he could inject the middle-order with some much-needed confidence.
Van der Dussen has over 7,000 first-class runs in the bank and is another consistent performer rewarded for years of franchise service.
If he isn’t ready for Test cricket now, it seems unlikely that he ever will be. Van der Dussen scored an unbeaten 154 in his last Four-Day Franchise match before the Mzansi Super League.
While he hasn’t had issues switching between formats before, he might not get his chance straight away, but van der Dussen seems an ideal fit for the number five slot in the batting order.
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