After recognising that AB de Villiers should not keep wicket and shoulder the burden of batting, the Proteas selectors have announced that he will again take the gloves for the first two Tests against England starting after Christmas.
He last kept 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 Australia. It was a role he assumed after the career-ending injury to Mark Boucher in 2012, but it was soon recognised that it was not an ideal situation if he was to maintain his position as the best batsman in the world.
The move takes Dane Vilas out of the team after his gruelling trip to India and ignores the ever-strident claims of De Kock since he rediscovered his form with the SA A team.
Both De Kock and Vilas, who kept wicket in one Test match in Bangladesh this year and then throughout the recent Freedom 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.
The naming of the 13-man squad also sees the demise of spinners Simon Harmer and Imran Tahir. Dane Piedt is the only spinner selected.
Uncapped Rilee Rossouw has been included in the Test squad as the extra batsman.
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,’ said CSA selection convener, Linda Zondi, ‘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.
‘We now feel that the side has a much better balance about it without in any way reducing the tactical options.’
Proteas Test squad: Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras, capt), AB de Villiers (Titans, vice-capt), 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 Cobras).
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, capt, wk), Wayne Parnell (Cape Cobras), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Chris Morris (Titans), Marchant de Lange (Titans).