Simon Harmer makes Proteas Test return for tour to New Zealand

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Simon Harmer in action for the Titans. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Simon Harmer in action for the Titans. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Off-spinner Simon Harmer has earned a recall to the Proteas Test squad for their upcoming tour to New Zealand.

Harmer, 32, played the last of his five Tests against India in Nagpur in November 2015, before taking a Kolpak deal to play county cricket in England.

He returned to South Africa last year to play for the Titans, becoming eligible again for the national team.

Cricket South Africa on Wednesday named a 17-man squad that will depart for the two-Test series on 2 February.

In a move to minimise Covid-19 risk, both fixtures - scheduled between 17 February and 1 March and which will form part of the new cycle of the ICC World Test Championship - will now take place at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Harmer returns due to the imminent wedding of George Linde, who is not available to take part in the tour. Prenelan Subrayen is also not available due to a groin injury, although he is making good progress in his rehabilitation.

Harmer made headlines by taking seven wickets on Test debut against the West Indies in January 2015 in Cape Town, and went on to play four more Tests, returning 20 wickets in total in eight innings, at an average of 29.40.

He has been in red-hot form for the Titans this season and holds second place in the Cricket South Africa (CSA) 4-Day Domestic Series' top wicket takers log, behind the Lions' Duanne Olivier (28 wickets), with 27 wickets in eight innings, at an average of 21.40.

Olivier's Lions team-mate, Lutho Sipamla, has also earned a call-up. Sipamla has been making his own 4-Day Domestic Series waves this season, returning 16 wickets in six innings, included best match bowling figures of 7/39 at an average of 16.56 and economy of 3.73. The 23-year-old made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2020 and has two Test matches under his belt with 10 wickets to his name.

The rest of the squad, led by Dean Elgar, contains all the regulars and also sees the return of stalwart Kagiso Rabada, who was rested for the recent ODI series against India.

Proteas Test squad v New Zealand:

Dean Elgar (captain, Titans), Temba Bavuma (vice-captain, Lions), Sarel Erwee (Dolphins), Simon Harmer (Titans), Marco Jansen (Warriors), Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Titans), Wiaan Mulder (Lions), Lungi Ngidi (Titans), Duanne Olivier (Lions), Keegan Petersen (Dolphins), Kagiso Rabada (Lions), Ryan Rickelton (Lions), Lutho Sipamla (Lions), Glenton Stuurman (Warriors), Rassie van der Dussen (Lions), Kyle Verreynne (wicket-keeper, Western Province)

"The National Selection Panel and I are pleased to see the Test team playing more cricket and we are looking forward to watching them perform in what we hope will be another scintillating series, this time, against the ICC World Test Champions, the Black Caps," CSA convenor of selectors, Victor Mpitsang, said n a statement.

"Our Test team has been successful under the strong leadership of Dean Elgar and his deputy, Temba Bavuma, and have returned good results in recent times. We are confident that they will continue in the same vein, as they head off to New Zealand.

"The inclusions of Simon and Lutho reaffirm our intentions as a panel, to reward excellence on the field and the pair have let their work speak on their behalf this past season.

"We wish Dean, coach Mark Boucher and the team all the best for the series and safe travels."

South Africa Test tour to New Zealand itinerary:

1st Test: Thursday, 17 to Monday, 21 February - Hagley Oval, Christchurch

2nd Test: Friday, 25 February to Tuesday, 1 March - Hagley Oval, Christchurch

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