Smith and Steyn return for Pakistan series
Graeme Smith, who has been out of competitive cricket since May, is set to lead South Africa against Pakistan in the Test series in the UAE, which begins next month. Smith suffered a recurrence of an ankle injury while playing county cricket for Surrey, which required surgery. He is not 100% fit yet but, at the squad announcement, Smith said: "I'm feeling on track and I feel I will be there on the tour."
Dale Steyn, who missed much of the Champions Trophy and the limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka due to several niggles - including side strain, groin, glute, neck and ankle problem - will be fit to play. Wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile was picked, while Jacques Rudolph missed out. Imran Tahir and Robin Peterson were both named, meaning South Africa will have two frontline spin options for the tour.
JP Duminy, who had missed South Africa's previous Test series - also against Pakistan, at home in February this year - due to the Achilles tendon injury that ruled him out for several months in the first half of the year, returns to the long format.
Smith and Steyn also feature in the ODI squad for the tour, but Jacques Kallis - who opted out of the Champions Trophy and the limited-overs games in Sri Lanka - does not feature, despite confirming his desire to play the 2015 World Cup.
Vernon Philander earns a recall to the ODI squad - the last of his eight one-dayers was played in January 2012. One-day cricket, South Africa coach Russell Domingo said, would help Philander develop his bowling further. "Vern's strengths in Test cricket are his line and length and he would have to find more variation in the one-day game. It's not about just bowling 10 overs on off stump," Domingo said. "I always judge a player's skill on how they are able to learn new things. Vern has an unbelievable desire to do well."
Kallis is expected to be back in the limited-overs set-up for the scheduled home series against India, and convener of selectors Andrew Hudson said the Pakistan series meanwhile provided the lesser-established players a chance to press their case. "This is an opportunity for new guys to put their hands up and compete for a place in the World Cup in 2015."
Wayne Parnell and Imran Tahir will be among the players who want to grab that chance, having gained recalls in ODIs after more than a year on the sidelines. Alviro Petersen, Farhaan Behardien, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Chris Morris and Aaron Phangiso are the ones to miss out from the squad that played the ODI series against Sri Lanka in July.
Cricket South Africa said their T20 squad would be named after the Champions League T20, which ends on October 6.
South Africa play two Tests, the first of which starts on October 14, followed by five ODIs and two T20s, on the tour. Smith said South Africa would have to ease themselves back into Test cricket, having been away from the longest format for so long: "Going to conditions that are foreign, we just need to be smart in our preparation to be ready. We need to make sure we get the basics right. We can't expect to be flashy after such a long break."
Domingo said it wasn't ideal to go into a Test series after a long layoff, and that his team would just have to adapt fast. "We've been into Test series cold before; there's not an awful lot you can do about it. The players are professional and experienced enough to know what they must do to hit the ground running.
"There are some positives: fortunately we'll be there for nine or 10 days before we hit the first of the two Tests, so that's a bit of a plus. Included will be a three-day warm-up game, which is better than nothing at all - it's pretty typical of the ways schedules go these days. I think eight of the 15 who go will be playing first in the Twenty20 Champions League, so that's another good development."