Johannesburg - Proteas bowling coach Allan Donald has predicted very little change in the South African lineup ahead of a busy Test season.
“The Test team picks itself, you're not going to see too many changes there,” Donald said in Johannesburg on Sunday.
“But it's the old thing with injuries and our youngsters need to be ready to play.”
While there are a number of young players knocking on the door, Donald was confident stalwarts Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Vernon Philander would continue producing the results which took South Africa to the summit of the ICC's Test rankings.
Beuran Hendricks - who turned in match figures of 11 for 63 in the unofficial Test between South Africa A and India A in Pretoria last month - and Wayne Parnell were two players Donald said he was monitoring closely.
Parnell made his Test debut for the Proteas in 2010, playing three Tests. He suffered a severe groin strain later that year, which kept him out of the game for a long time.
As part of a plan to get him back to his peak, he was included in the SA A squad for the recent India A series but left the field complaining of shortness of breath while bowling. He was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat as a results of a viral infection, but was now fully recovered. “I was very impressed with Beuran against India. I was there that last day when he got his '10-for'. I'll keep an eye on that youngster, I think he's progressing very quickly," Donald said.
“Wayne is stepping up now too.
“The main thing is to keep the Test boys - Dale, Morné, the old man Jacques (Kallis) - mentally and physically fresh.”
Donald said defending their Test ranking was enough of a motivating factor to keep the side performing.
“We've risen to world number one, and the challenge now is maintaining it.
"It's not putting us under pressure, it's just the standards this unbelievable team sets. That's why we got there.”
Despite going down 4-1 in a One Day International (ODI) series on their tour to Sri Lanka in July, Donald said it provided a good indication of where the Proteas were lacking.
“We went to the Champions Trophy and then it was two weeks off before we went to Sri Lanka, which was a big learning curve for us, especially for our youngsters.
“Guys like Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis weren't there.
“It actually gave us quite a good gauge to see where we are. We also know some of our youngsters haven't been there before and found it tough against a quality Sri Lankan team on their own patch.”
Steyn, the spearhead of the South African attack, would play a key role in the forthcoming Pakistan tour according to Donald.
“I must say I'm chuffed that Dale has had a long break, and he's raring to go.
“It's just a matter of hitting the ground running when we get to Abu Dhabi.”
The Proteas are scheduled to play two Tests, five ODI's and two T20I's from October 14th - November 15th, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
Before the first Test, a number of Proteas would head to the Champions League Twenty20 in the next week, and Donald said it would help them get vital game-time under their belts at the right time.
“We need to make sure we don't go into the Pakistan series underdone. The guys though, have worked really hard in the off season.”