Philander returns to one-day squad
Vernon Philander was the only change to the South Africa ODI squad that was victorious in the recent triangular series in Zimbabwe ahead of trips to New Zealand and Australia. Philander, who has recovered from the hamstring injury which kept him out of that tournament, replaced Mthokozisi Shezi to ensure South Africa take a full-strength ODI squad on their travels in preparation for next year's World Cup.
South Africa's walking wounded are expected to recover by the time the tour begins on October 21. Morne Morkel and Parnell will be the biggest concerns. They are nursing shoulder injuries but Ryan McLaren has recovered from a broken arm and JP Duminy has been through rehabilitation for a knee niggle.
Duminy will have to be fighting fit because he has been tasked with the extra responsibility of leading an experimental T20 side for three matches in Australia. This will be Duminy's first foray into captaincy after he was named as a candidate for the Test job following Graeme Smith's retirement in March.
Team management chose to rest five of the senior core, including captain Faf du Plessis, for the shortest format. With Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Morkel also being given time off, there were opportunities for three new caps - Under-19 World Cup winner Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks - and recalls for Farhaan Behardien and David Wiese.
Rossouw, whose first two ODIs matches yielded two golden ducks, also kept his place in the fifty-over squad, firming up his spot as the reserve batsman. Similarly, Abbott was retained as the extra bowler ahead of the likes of Marchant de Lange and Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Abbott is likely to slip behind Philander in the queue for the starting XI, though. Despite modest returns of 3 for 139 in four matches at the Champions League T20, Philander will likely be used as the third prong in the pace attack, alongside Steyn and Morkel as is the case in Tests.
South Africa's squad is laden with bowling options as a result. McLaren and Parnell can both fulfill the fourth seamer/all-rounder role and the selectors have retained two specialist spinners as well. Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso are in the ODI and T20 squads, which leaves the length of South Africa's tail the only concern. In Zimbabwe, South Africa used just six frontline batsmen and were found out once while chasing against Australia.
South Africa are still tinkering with the balance of their line-up ahead of the World Cup but management believes the preparations are on track. "We are very happy with the progress and momentum the team has established over the last couple of months, first in Sri Lanka and then in Zimbabwe," said Andrew Hudson, convener of selectors, while also explaining the rationale behind the new-look T20 side. "It is the only opportunity we have to ease their workload in what is going to be a very busy and intense summer season."
Following the series Down Under, South Africa return home for a period in which the international players will be available for the domestic one-day competition. They then take on West Indies before heading to the World Cup.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent