Jacques Kallis will captain the South African cricket team on their forthcoming series in Ireland, where they will play one match against the hosts and three against India. There are five players in the 14 man squad who did not travel to the Caribbean for the recently finished World Cup. Captain Graeme Smith and all rounder Shaun Pollock have both been rested after recent surgeries.
The changes to the squad are designed to give some players exposure to International cricket, to assess options, and to increase the pool of international players in the South African set up. There are two new caps in the squad, Eagles young spinner Thandi Tshabalala and Cobra’s all rounder Vernon Philander. Cobra’s batsman JP Duminy, Eagles wicket keeper/batsman Morne Van Wyk and Titans fast bowler Dale Steyn all return to the ODI team.
Van Wyk, who was the form batsman in the domestic four day, limited over and 20/20 cricket, is likely to play as a batsman rather than as Mark Bouchers deputy behind the stumps. He is able to bat anywhere in the top or middle order but generally opens the batting, particularly in limited over cricket. Van Wyk was the domestic player of the season in both forms of the game and there have been calls for his inclusion for a few years now. JP Duminy is a talented batsman who is held in high regard by many in the South African cricketing community and has played a few ODI games before but has never been given a sustained run in the team. His Cobras team mate, Vernon Philander, has shown good form and potential over the last few seasons with both bat and ball and earns his first call up on these grounds. The selection of the two new bowlers is particularly interesting. Steyn comes in for his raw pace and aggression. While there was a move to pigeon hole a player like Steyn as a Test bowler, with the idea that he may leak runs in ODI cricket with wayward bowling and field settings that would not protect him, the recent World Cup highlighted South Africa’s lack of variation as well as the performances of strike bowlers like Shaun Tait for Australia, Lasith Malinga for Sri Lanka, and Shane Bond of New Zealand, showed that there is a place for such bolwers in ODI cricket. His performances will be keenly watched. Tshabalala’s inclusion is one that has been called for by the South African public for a year or so now. The young off spinner, who’s action is modeled on that of Harbajahn Singh’s, is seen as the hope and future of South African spin bowling. There is a feeling that although his inclusion will be welcomed for such a series, the selectors don’t want to rush him into international cricket until they are certain he is ready for the step up. They are reluctant to rush him into the fold and risk him being found wanting, his confidence taking a dive, and his development a step backward. As he is the sole spinner in the squad it seems certain that he will play rather then just gain experience as a touring member.
There are still no places in the squad for Johan van der Waath and brothers Albie and Morne Morkel, the later two who are currently in India with the African team for the Afro-Asia series.
The players who were part of the World Cup squad but have not been included, apart from the rested Smith and Pollock, are Ashwell Prince, Roger Telemachus and Robin Peterson.
Squad :Jacques Kallis (capt), Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Thandi Tshabalala, Morne van Wyk