Uncapped Tsotsobe in Test squad for Australia
Left-arm swing bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe has been included in South Africa's squad for the three-Test series in Australia starting in December. Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson is the other addition to the 13-man squad named for the home Test series against Bangladesh, and would provide cover for first-choice spinner Paul Harris, who fractured his left thumb during the first Test in Bloemfontein.
Andre Nel, who had been omitted from South Africa's Test and limited-overs teams for the recent home series against Bangladesh and Kenya, was not considered for selection after he underwent surgery to repair knee ligament damage. There is also no place for Herschelle Gibbs, who has not been part of the Test side since he was dropped for the tour of Bangladesh earlier this year, with Neil McKenzie firming a spot at the top of the order.
Tsotsobe, who plays for the Eastern Province and Border franchise Warriors, has been picked after an impressive showing in the domestic season. In four first-class matches, he has taken 16 wickets at 18.12. Tsotsobe, 24, was also the leading wicket-taker for South Africa A in the recent two-Test series against Sri Lanka A, held in August-September.
"We have felt for some time that we need to explore the left-arm swing variety to add an extra dimension to our attack and Lonwabo Tsotsobe made a good impression at the recent national camp we held in Kimberley," Craig Matthews, acting convenor of selectors, said. "With an injury worry over Paul Harris, we have Robin Peterson ready to step up if needed. He took a five-wicket haul in his last Test against Bangladesh."
However, Tsotsobe and Monde Zondeki will find it tough to break into a Test attack led by Dale Steyn on the tour, with Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel the likely first-XI candidates. "We have maintained the policy of consistency that has served us well over the last couple of years," Matthews said. "The starting line-up chooses itself and we feel we have good cover for all eventualities."
South Africa will be led by Graeme Smith, who has forged a formidable opening pair with McKenzie this year. Middle-order batsman Ashwell Prince will be Smith's deputy on the tour, with Mark Boucher as wicketkeeper. The form of Jacques Kallis, though, will be worrying for coach Mickey Arthur, who is one of the many voices to state this is South Africa's best chance of beating them in a Test series. South Africa have never won a Test series in Australia, and not one against them since readmission. Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy are the other batsmen included to tour.
After their tour of Australia in December-January, South Africa will host Australia for three in February-March. The South African Test side has had a successful stint heading into the tour, with away series wins against Pakistan, Bangladesh and England, home successes over New Zealand and West Indies and a drawn series in India.
"The team has earned the right to be confident with the results they have had," Smith said. "I have a lot of confidence in the players I have around me. We go there with a mature, settled environment. Everyone knows their roles. We will arrive with a clear goal in mind.
"We're going to be challenged on an Australian tour but like the England tour I am confident we can meet them. We've got the players to do well there."
South Africa squad: Neil McKenzie, Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher (wk), JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Monde Zondeki.