Cape Cobras’ 23-year-old batter Zubayr Hamza has been included in the squad for the Proteas’ three-match Test series against Pakistan, starting at SuperSport Park, Centurion, on 26 December.
If selected for one of the Tests, Hamza would become the 100th player to represent the Proteas in Test cricket since 1991 and 335th overall.
‘Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa A tour to India, where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under tough conditions,’ said CSA national selection panel (NSP) convener Linda Zondi.
‘Before that, he had an outstanding season in the four-day franchise competition where he scored 823 runs, including three centuries, at the impressive average of 69.
‘His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system. It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come, and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place,’ explained Zondi.
The 13-man squad announced by Cricket South Africa on Thursday 6 December included a recall for Knights fast bowler Duanne Olivier in place of the injured Lungi Ngidi. Olivier was part of the squad for the previous home Test series against Australia and has represented the Proteas in five Test matches.
‘As unfortunate as Lungi’s injury is we are blessed to have outstanding depth in our fast bowling resources. Duanne has impressed in his previous appearances for the Proteas and has had a good franchise season to date with 20 wickets in his five matches at an average of 22.80.
‘Tladi Bokako will work with the squad as a learning experience during the series in a continuation of the initiative we started with Kagiso Rabada and continued with Matthew Breetzke earlier in the season. He has had a good debut season for the Cape Cobras with 21 wickets at 26.33 to date.
‘We will continue to identify young players with the potential to become future Proteas,’ concluded Zondi.
Dale Steyn needs one wicket to move past Shaun Pollock’s mark of 421 Test wickets, while Hashim Amla needs 232 runs to move past Graeme Smith’s total of 9,253 Test runs to move into second spot on the all-time list behind Jacques Kallis, who scored 13,206 Test runs.
The other two Tests in the series will be played at Newlands in Cape Town from 3-7 January and at the Wanderers in Johannesburg from 11-15 January.
Proteas Test squad
Faf du Plessis (Titans, capt)
Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras)
Temba Bavuma (Highveld Lions)
Theunis de Bruyn (Titans)
Quinton de Kock (Titans)
Zubayr Hamza (Cape Cobras)
Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins)
Aiden Markram (Titans)
Duanne Olivier (Knights)
Vernon Philander (Cape Cobras)
Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions)
Dale Steyn (Multiply Titans)
PAKISTAN TOUR TO SOUTH AFRICA 2018/19
December 26-30: 10am, 1st Test, SuperSport Park, Centurion
January 3-7: 10:30am, 2nd Test, Newlands, Cape Town
January 11-15: 10am, 3rd Test, Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix