Young Lions get Protea call-up

2014-12-03 00:00

LIONS players Temba Bavuma and Kagiso Rabada are the new additions to the Protea Test squad, captained by Hashim Amla, for the three-match series against the West Indies starting on December 17 at Centurion.

Cobras spinner Robin Peterson has earned a recall, replacing the injured Dane Piedt who ­impressed on his debut against Zimbabwe in August, taking eight wickets.

Peterson is thus the only specialist spinner in the squad as Imran Tahir has been dropped. Middle-order kingpin JP Duminy is still on the casualty list and it’s clear to see Andrew Hudson and his band of selectors have seen the series as an opportunity to blood some future stars.

Stiaan van Zyl, the Cobras batsman who scored the most runs in last season’s four-day competition (933 at 58,31) ­retains his spot in the squad as the third uncapped player with the Lions duo. Van Zyl was the reserve batsman in that one-off showdown with Zimbabwe and must surely fancy his chances of getting that cherished maiden cap this time around.

Hudson highlighted the squad as being tried and trusted, with the familiar names there to guide the ship and keep the ­Proteas at the top of the ICC Test rankings.

“The Test side have ­performed well in their last three outings, winning the two-match series one nil in Sri Lanka and beating Zimbabwe,” said ­Hudson.

“There is some consistency there, due in no small measure to the selection process which has established a pecking order, thereby allowing opportunities for new players.”

Van Zyl is an example of this. Having been the reserve batsman in Zimbabwe, he is the obvious choice in the squad to replace Duminy.

As with the ODI and T20 squads who recently toured New Zealand and Australia, Hudson reiterated that consistent performances at franchise level would be monitored and not go unnoticed.

“This series allows us to being players, identified by us as having the potential to perform at international level, into the toughest environment of the game,” he said. “That is already seen with Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis who have ­followed that route.

“Bavuma and Rabada have caught the eye for their franchise and at SA A level, earning the right to be considered for the next level of their careers at senior international duty.”

As for Tahir, Hudson said the bowler would always compete for a place but felt Peterson was the right choice for this series.

Meanwhile, Piedt and Duminy are continuing to be monitored by the Protea medical team, with a possibility of Duminy being available later in the series.

Good news for the Dolphins was paceman Kyle Abbott flying the flag as the only player from the franchise in the squad.

He has only two Tests to his name but an impressive 12 wickets at 16.41 under the belt. In the limited opportunities he had on the Australasia tour, he acquitted himself well, making a strong statement when it came to death bowling where, compared to fellow Protea bowlers, he was the most consistent in getting it right.

Proteas Test Squad: Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers (vice-captain), Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Stiaan van Zyl, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Temba Bavuma, Kyle Abbott, Kagiso Rabada.

Tests v West Indies

First Test — December 17 to 21, Centurion.

Second Test — December 26 to 30, Port Elizabeth.

Third Test — January 2 to 6, Cape Town.

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