• Zondi defends Tahir, De Kock omission

    Convener of selectors Linda Zondi says Imran Tahir’s Test career is not over despite him being left out of the squad to face England in the first two Tests.

    Tahir was South Africa’s top wicket-taker on the recent tour to India where he took 14 wickets, the most he has taken in a single series so far.

    However, the selectors have opted for off-spinner Dane Piedt, who played in the fourth Test against India and took a four-for in the first innings.

    Zondi told Cricbuzz.com Piedt’s ability to hold up an end counted in his favour.

    ‘Imran Tahir is still a part of our plans, definitely,’ Zondi said. ‘He is a strike bowler in the side. However, we felt that we needed someone who is a holding bowler. And Dane Piedt can do that job. Also, the advantage of playing at home is that it allows us to call up a player should the need arise. So, if we feel we have missed Tahir, we will hand him a return,’ Zondi said.

    The selectors also made the surprising move to give the wicketkeeping gloves back to AB de Villiers after they dropped Dane Vilas and decided not to recall the in-form Quinton de Kock.

    ‘We all feel that Quinton de Kock is a player for the future,’ Zondi said. ‘As you know, he has been picked in the SA A side and we will follow his progress.

    ‘The move to let AB de Villiers keep allows us to play seven specialist batsmen and that should boost our batting line-up. For now, De Villiers will only keep for the first two Tests. We will take a call regarding his role and back-ups after that.’

    Stiaan van Zyl has been retained as opening batsman alongside Dean Elgar, but he will be under severe pressure to score runs in the first two matches.

    Yes, he [Van Zyl] struggled in subcontinent conditions, but we wanted to give him another chance to perform. Now, he will be playing in more similar conditions than he did in India, and we wanted to see how well he would do here.’

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