South Africa in England 2012 June 13, 2012

South Africa unchanged for England Tests


South Africa's selectors have expressed confidence in the players that won the Test series in New Zealand 1-0 and named an unchanged squad for the tour of England in July and August. South Africa, the No. 2 Test side, can claim the No 1 spot from England by winning the three-match series.

Graeme Smith, South Africa's Test captain, has recovered from ankle surgery that ruled him out of the IPL, and has had throw-downs with Gary Kirsten already. Smith's wife is due to give birth to the couple's first-child after the first Test and he will return home, but is unlikely to miss a Test. The tour will mark significant milestones in Smith's career with the first Test at the Oval his 100th and the second the match in which he will surpass Allan Border as the most capped captain, provided he plays in it.

AB de Villiers will be the reserve wicketkeeper for the Test series, which could be Mark Boucher's final international assignment. Thami Tsolekile, who was awarded a national contract in February, was expected to be part of the tour with Mark Boucher's impending retirement. Instead, AB de Villiers has been named Boucher's understudy, but Tsolekile will be close at hand, if needed.

"We decided that instead of have Thami on the bench, waiting for a game, we would have him playing in the A series in Ireland instead," Andrew Hudson, convenor of selectors told ESPNcricinfo. "We did think of having a 16-man squad with Thami in it, but decided it would be better to have him playing."

Tsolekile will play in two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A, starting at on June 30, in Durban, and will also be part of the group of players who will spend time in Ireland. South Africa are sending their A side to Ireland at the same time as the Test squad tours England, similar to England's policy during the 2010 Ashes in Australia, to ensure they have enough reserves ready to play if needed. So Tsolekile is likely to be called on if needed.

Hudson could not confirm South Africa's long-term wicket-keeping plans and said they will be decided on "tour by tour". As matters stand, Boucher is set to retire after the third Test at Lord's which ends on August 20.

Another player whose Test career may be over is Ashwell Prince. The middle-order batsman was left out of the squad, despite having his national contract renewed in February. Prince last played in the 2011 Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka when he was involved in a disastrous run-out with Hashim Amla, which was thought to have sealed his fate. Prince was dropped for the New Year's Test and was also left out of the tour to New Zealand.

His place, at No.6 in the batting order, was taken by Jacques Rudolph, who was moved down after four unsuccessful Test at the top of the order. Rudolph scored a century in the Dunedin Test in New Zealand to prolong his stay in the national side. As back-up to Rudolph, JP Duminy has been included in the squad. Duminy made his Test comeback in Wellington and also scored a hundred to put him higher up in the queue than Prince for a Test place.

"We were delighted that JP stepped up and performed when we needed him in New Zealand. It showed us the depth we have in that position" Hudson said. "I would never write anybody off, so we are still watching Ashwell. It's good to see that he has gone to England and is playing in those conditions. If he does amazing things at domestic level, he could fight for his place back." Prince has spent the winter playing at Lancashire where he has scored at least 50 in each of his last four matches and 144 in one of them.

Also in contention for the No.6 spot is Faf du Plessis, who will captain the A side in the upcoming fixtures against Sri Lanka. Du Plessis put in good performances on the South African first-class scene last season, where he scored 599 runs in four matches at an average of 85.57, and Hudson said du Plessis is categorised as one for the future. "He will have to bide his time but we've noted how well he has done," he said. "But because of the nature of the squad we have now, he will have to knock someone off to get a look in. We have six spots and seven batsmen in good nick, so it's very hard to find gaps."

Squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, Marchant de Lange, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Galib on June 14, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    I guess the indians want the saffers to beat england really bad because they were humiliated by the English last year and i sincerely understand. Frankly the saffers are very good in paper but the question is will they be able to win against the english or CHOKE. I affraid they are going to choke.....

  • Dummy4 on June 14, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    Am i missing something, Here...Is Prior better then Ms Dhoni.. What????

  • Paul on June 14, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Killer team, simply one of the best cricket teams ever. It is really formidable in every department, there is not one weak link. Amazing, amazing, amazing, England will have to work very hard to beat them.

  • Sello on June 14, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    @Valavan, so now you are bringing Herath in this discussion. Just a quick reminder that Herath took a 12fer against the very same batting line-up, and ooh Swann, this is the same guy that was never a threat to the Windies this past series, the same pitches that the Windies played on will be the same pitches the Saffers will play on this coming series. So if he showed no sign of trouble against Windies, what makes you so sure that he'll trouble the Saffers?

  • Doug on June 14, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    I don't feel it will be a tight series, SA should win comfortably with that team, especially with the chance to become #1 in the series. They will play harder than England.

  • Sharky on June 14, 2012, 10:41 GMT

    Last time around, South Africa won their first series in England since re-admission. After that England became number one in Test Cricket and South Africa showed good form before April. England's got home-advantage and will be more of a rhythm unit after the West Indies series. I'm glad this is more than a two match series, cause this will be a cracker !!! Very even contest I think.

  • Khehla on June 14, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    As a Saffer I can proclaim without hesitation that The Poms are definitely the favourites for the upcoming series. They have a better team holistically, whereas SA has the better and more talented personel the Poms are a better team. And the series will be held in England so they have homecourt advantage as well. But if SA play to their best they are certainly capable of surprising the Poms and winning the series, although I strongly believe that the series will end in a draw for both teams are formidable. The series deserves to be 5 tests though, damn to FTP.

  • Garreth on June 14, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    My biggest worry, as a Saffer, is the depth of England's batting. Im worried that could be a decider. The batting and bowling looks fairly even. You could pull points either way in terms of home conditions, experience etc. But the depth in Englands batting which often times has Swann batting at 10 worries me. South Africa may be able to rip through Englands batting order from time to time and so might England do the same to South Africa but having an 8, 9 and 10 add an extra 80 - 100 runs is so valuable. Prior is also a better number 7 than Boucher and in much better form. Tahir vs Swann is also something that could be a decider. I know most people back Swann to win that battle but I have a feeling that Tahir has been working hard and will be a danger in conditions he had previously mastered (domestically at least. Granted test cricket is a step up) and will be tough to deal with. England dont cope well against quality spin. But it will have to be quality. Cracking series ahead!

  • Geoffrey on June 14, 2012, 9:27 GMT

    @Joel Carter- I would be surprised to see Katich opening the batting, firstly because he isn't a UK citizen, secondly because he hasn't fulfilled his ECB qualifications, and lastly because Strauss and Cook are better opening batsman. Grow a brain.

  • ped on June 14, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    shershamir - did you even watch the England tour in SA 2009/2010? For your edification here are the results: Centurion SA418 ENG356 SA301/ 8 dec ENG228/ 9 (game draw - doesnt take a genius to figure out who was on top here) Durban SA343 Eng 574 SA133 (England thump SA by Innings and 98 runs) Capetown SA291 Eng273 SA447/7 dec Eng 296/9 (match drawn and Eng hold on just again) Match 4 Wanderers Jhb Eng180 SA423 Eng169 (England thumped by Innings and 74 runs) Series DRAWN. England would have been happy with this draw and SA disappointed. Anyone who watched will know who the better team was.Given that Smith, Kallis, DeVillierand Strauss were the only individual involved in the 2005 contest your statement holds no merit. Besides the contest is in England not SA.Alll know SA have battled to win a series on home turf and draw mainly those they should win. If we look at SA in Eng (2008) SA won 2-1 (2003) drawn.

    Going to be close I hope and not one sided!Cut the Ashes to 3 tests I say!

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