South Africa pick two left-arm spinners
South Africa have opted for two left-arm spinners, Robin Peterson and Paul Harris, in their 14-man squad for the three-Test series in India. Peterson, who took career-best figures of 5 for 33 against Bangladesh in the second Test in Chittagong, has been preferred over offspinner Johan Botha.
Peterson was not in the original squad named for the Bangladesh tour, but an injury to Harris saw him earn a call-up. Charl Langeveldt replaces Andre Nel, who didn't play in the two Tests against Bangladesh.
There's also no place for Herschelle Gibbs, whose indifferent form in the five-day game saw him dropped from the squad to tour Bangladesh. Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie, partners in a world-record stand in Chittagong, are expected to open the batting.
The two changes mean there are six players of colour among the 14, in keeping with Cricket South Africa's transformation policy of having seven in a touring squad of 15 or more players. A row had erupted between Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, and CSA president Norman Arendse over the Test team originally selected for the Bangladesh tour. The naming of the squad was subsequently delayed, but despite CSA's reaffirmation of its transformation policy, the squad finally chosen didn't meet the required targets.
Joubert Strydom, South Africa's convener of selectors, admitted there was a lot of debate during the selection process. "There was a lot of discussion and to-ing and fro-ing," he told AFP. "Targets and transformation was one of the issues we were aware of when we took on the job as selectors," Strydom said. "It is a part of South African sport, as it is in politics and economics."
Ashwell Prince continues as Smith's deputy, while Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Makhaya Ntini return to the squad after they were given a break for the ODI series in Bangladesh.
South Africa's bowling will be spearheaded by Dale Steyn, with Morne Morkel and Ntini the other fast bowlers likely to figure. Steyn has been in red-hot form, with Man-of-the-Series awards in South Africa's previous three Test series.
South Africa will travel directly from Bangladesh to India, with the first Test starting on March 26 in Chennai.
South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Charl Langeveldt, Neil McKenzie, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn.