Gibbs dropped for Bangladesh tour
Neil McKenzie and Andre Nel have been passed fit for South Africa's 14-man Test squad for the tour of Bangladesh, but there was no place for Herschelle Gibbs. Gibbs' recent Test record - he averaged 22.40 from six Tests in the last 12 months - has gone against him, and he has been replaced by JP Duminy.
Duminy, a left-handed batsman, scored 227 runs at 113.50 in four innings during South Africa's 5-0 ODI rout of West Indies recently.
There were few surprises in the rest of the squad, whose announcement was delayed amid reports of a bitter row between Norman Arendse, the Cricket South Africa (CSA) president and coach Mickey Arthur. The row stems from Arendse's complaint that the team selected for the tour of Bangladesh did not conform with CSA's transformation policy, which calls for seven players of colour in a touring squad of 15. Arthur apparently wanted to take the best possible team to Bangladesh to acclimatise to the conditions on the subcontinent ahead of a tour of India. Ultimately, Arthur got the team he wanted as the original squad presented to Arendse was selected.
Arendse denied reports that he wanted Gibbs and Monde Zondeki, both of whom are coloured, to be included in the squad. Zondeki, a fast bowler, has been omitted, despite finishing the SuperSport Series as the second-highest wicket-taker with 54 wickets for the Cape Cobras.
However, Arendse reportedly wanted Gibbs and Charl Langeveldt, another coloured player, to be included in place of Nel and McKenzie.
"But the CEO [Majola] has effectively over-ridden my veto, and I suppose the team that was announced today is the one that will go to Bangladesh," Arendse told Sapa news agency. "I don't have the financial resources to send another team, and I can't stop players from getting on the plane on Wednesday."
The squad was to be finalised on Tuesday and Arendse attributed the delay to the fitness of McKenzie and Nel. The duo, who picked up calf muscle and neck injuries respectively, were assessed today and declared fit.
The first of two Tests gets underway on February 22 before three one-day internationals next month.
South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Morne Morkel, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn.