Thami Tsolekile to lead Invitation XI against Sri Lankans
Wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile will captain the South African Invitation XI in a three-day tour match against the Sri Lankans, starting on December 9 in Benoni. Five members of the squad who played against the touring Australians in November have been retained.
The selectors were unable to pick players from two of South Africa's six franchises, Cobras and Warriors, because they will contest the domestic one-day cup final on December 9. As a result players such as Wayne Parnell and JP Duminy, who are considered to be on the fringes of the Test squad, were unavailable for selection.
The schedule gave other promising players such as Lions' batsman Temba Bavuma and Titans fast bowler Hardus Viljoen an opportunity to represent the Invitation XI. "We have chosen a mix of players who have shown good form in the various domestic competitions and those who have been identified as having the potential to move up to a higher level," Andrew Hudson, the convenor of selectors said.
Batsmen Reeza Hendricks and Rilee Rossouw have performed impressively for Knights and Lions bowler Pumi Matshikwe is the second highest wicket-taker in the SuperSport Series this season. The likes of Tsolekile and left-arm spinner Paul Harris could force their way into the national squad with good showings in the tour match.
Tsolekile had replaced the injured Heino Kuhn as wicketkeeper of the A side against the Australians. Tsolekile was long thought of as the No. 2 wicketkeeper in the country, after Boucher, but fell out of favour with the emergence of Kuhn. He appears to be back in the selector's minds as the succession debate continues, with Boucher's poor batting form against Australia fuelling calls for a replacement to be groomed more seriously.
Harris, who missed his first Test in four years when he was replaced by legspinner Imran Tahir for the Australia series, also has the opportunity to stake a claim for a recall. Batsman Dean Elgar is the other player who will be watched closely as the race for national berths heats up. Elgar has been a part of numerous A tours and is regularly among the top ten batsmen in the SuperSport Series. He has been tipped as one of the players who could form part of South Africa's experimentation against Sri Lanka.
Opening batsman Alviro Petersen was among the notable absentees from the squad. Petersen was dropped from the Test squad to make room for in-form Jacques Rudolph but scored a century on a spicy pitch in Potchefstroom against the Australians. He is in Namibia and CSA granted him permission to miss the tour match.
Fast bowler Marchant de Lange is also not part of the squad. de Lange took five wickets against the Australians in Potchefstroom was not considered because of injury. He dislocated his thumb and will be assessed by the Titans physio later in the week. Albie Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, whose place in the Test XI was taken by Vernon Philander, are still recovering from side strains while Ryan McLaren is also injured.
South African Invitation XI: Thami Tsolekile, Temba Bavuma, Farhaan Behardien, Dean Elgar, Paul Harris, Reeza Hendricks, Pumelela Matshikwe, Rilee Rossouw, Stiaan van Zyl, Hardus Viljoen, David Wiese.