February 17, 2001

Nel wins place on West Indies tour

Andre Nel, the Easterns fast bowler who made such an impact on Allan Donald recently, will travel to the West Indies with South Africa at the end of this month as backup to the great man.

Nel is the only new cap named in a 16-man for the Test segment of South Africa's Caribbean venture. A full five-Test series will be played before the two sides embark on a seven-match one-day series with Boland's Justin Ontong earning his first trip with the South African ODI squad.

Paul Adams, who has endured a torrid 12 months since fracturing a finger against England last year, had been given a vote of confidence by Rushdi Magiet's national selectors. He goes to the West Indies as Nicky Boje's understudy, but will return to South Africa after the Test matches with Ontong flying out to replace him. At the same time Jonty Rhodes will join the one-day squad in the place of Daryll Cullinan.

Apart from Nel and Ontong, the selectors have predictably gone for tried and tested international players although in something of a minor surprise Roger Telemachus will join the Test squad as an extra seamer once he has completed his SuperSport Series commitments with Western Province.

Magiet, however, made it clear that Nel was regarded as first reserve to the likes of Donald and Shaun Pollock, but he said that in the event of injury to one of the front line seamers Telemachus would go to the West Indies sooner than anticipated.

For the 23-year-old Nel his selection caps an eventful match during which he felled Donald with a short ball that the batsman ducked into. Even before sending Donald to hospital Nel had started to earn a reputation as a quick and aggressive opening bowler, a reputation blemished somewhat when he burst into tears after knocking Donald down.

For all that, he is clearly seen as one for the future, particularly with Mfuneko Ngam unavailable because of injury, and he has won his place ahead of the likes of Charl Langeveldt and Deon Kruis, both mentioned by Magiet as bowlers considered for the Caribbean.

Although Magiet did not say as much, there has to be some concern about Donald's ability to complete a 77-day tour.

"Allan was considered on the basis that he is fully fit," said Magiet. "We are confident that he will make a contribution. But it is a long tour and that's why we're taking an extra bowler."

"My target has really been the World Cup in 2003," said Nel on Saturday, "but I am very, very happy and very privileged to be chosen now. I have had a good season, but it has been a lot of hard work - particularly with Kenny Benjamin. He's told me a lot of stories about the West Indies and I can't wait to tour there."

As far as Adams is concerned, Magiet made the point that the selectors wanted a second spinner who could step up and bowl in a Test match if required. His loss of confidence notwithstanding, Adams' record - 94 wickets in 33 Tests - should ensure that if the 24-year-old plays, he will not be overawed by the occasion.

The batting side of the squad is well covered with both Boeta Dippenaar and Justin Kemp - who played in the third Test match against Sri Lanka - included as backup to the usual suspects. Gary Kirsten and Lance Klusener will no doubt reclaim their Test places in the West Indies, but Dippenaar and Kemp give the squad depth.

Ontong, meanwhile, is also delighted by his recognition. "It is a real honour and a privilege to be selected to play for South Africa," he said. "It's a surprise and a bonus that has come after a pretty good season for me with Boland. Fortunately for me I was in the SA A squad that tour the West Indies last year. Although I didn't have such a great tour, at least I know the conditions and what to expect there."

The squad

Shaun Pollock (capt), Mark Boucher (vice capt), Paul Adams, Nicky Boje, Daryll Cullinan, Boeta Dippenaar, Allan Donald, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Justin Kemp, Gary Kirsten, Lance Klusener, Neil McKenzie, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Roger Telemachus. Telemachus will join the squad after completing his SuperSport Series commitments while Jonty Rhodes and Justin Ontong will replace Cullinan and Adams for the one-day series.