Hudson set to keep selector job
Andrew Hudson, the former South Africa batsman, is expected to stay on as convenor of selectors when Cricket South Africa (CSA) appoint a new selection committee this Saturday. CSA officials confirmed he has been nominated to continue on in the position he has occupied since May 2010.
The four-man panel is likely to undergo two major changes, with former first-class players Hussein Manack and Linda Zondi the leading candidates to be added on, while high-performance personnel Vincent Barnes and Corrie van Zyl could be released. Current selector, Shafiek Abrahams, has been re-nominated, and will probably keep his position.
Abrahams and van Zyl have also been in their roles for three years, although at the time van Zyl was the interim coach of the national team. When Gary Kirsten was appointed head coach in June 2011, van Zyl moved to the high performance program and stayed on as selector.
A source close to van Zyl revealed he wanted to resign the position of selector on many occasions, but was persuaded to stay on. Vincent Barnes, former national bowling coach, was appointed high performance manager in June 2011, and was also made a selector then.
The current panel have presided over the rise of South Africa's Test side to No. 1, and oversaw the successful selection of Vernon Philander, who currently sits at No.2 in the Test bowling rankings. They experimented with Imran Tahir, South Africa's first attacking spinner since Paul Adams, and recalled Jacques Rudolph to open the batting, although both decisions proved unsuccessful. Despite that, their picking of Faf du Plessis, and promotion of Robin Peterson, paid off to create an imposing Test unit.
In the shorter formats, their record has been more patchy. AB de Villiers has been uncertain in his treble role as captain, wicketkeeper and senior batsman, with the selectors giving him added leeway. In their time in charge, 13 players have made their ODI debuts, while 14 have been introduced to the international T20 format, and eight players for the Test side.
None of that though, was the source of their biggest headline. The selection panel was steeped in controversy last December when wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile revealed that he had been given assurance by the selectors that he would play in the home Tests against New Zealand, but was eventually left out of the squad.
Tsolekile was contracted in February 2012 when Mark Boucher indicated he would retire from international cricket after the England tour in July that year. Boucher's career ended abruptly with a freak accident in a warm-up match in Taunton, and Tsolekile was called up to the squad. Tsolekile claimed he was given assurance that even though de Villiers would hold on to the gloves for the tour of Australia in October, he would assume the role from January 2013 on.
The selectors admitted they had planned to play Tsolekile, but de Villiers changed his mind and wanted to stay on as permanent wicketkeeper. The issue caused ill-feeling around South Africa because of its political undertones. Makhaya Ntini said Tsolekile had been snubbed because he was a black African, and the transformation debate reopened. Central to the argument was that South Africa's Tests side had only fielded five black Africans since readmission, and none while Kirsten was in charge. Even without that, the selectors' actions were a cause for concern. Senior CSA officials were unhappy that they had given a player an assurance they could not follow through on, and talk was rife of the panel being replaced en masse.
In the immediate aftermath, CSA, who were still restructuring their board at the time, simply said they would add a black African selector to the panel in keeping with their transformation policy. Ntini's name was mentioned as a possibility, but he has not yet been nominated.
Instead, at least three other black African candidates are in the running with Zondi expected to get the nod. The former wicketkeeper has been involved with Kwa-Zulu Natal's development program, and has worked with the national Under-19 side. Others nominated include former Lions assistant coach and commentator Lawrence Mahatlane, and former Free State fast bowler Victor Mpitsang, who also does commentary. Mpitsang represented South Africa in two ODIs in 1999.
Manack is also among the nominees and is considered to have a "very good chance" of being appointed, according to an insider. He played first-class cricket for Gauteng (formerly Transvaal) and was one of the non-playing members of South Arica's inaugural post-readmission tour to India in 1992. He has served on the Gauteng Cricket Board and is a selector at the Lions - the franchise which won the domestic T20 cup, shared the one-day cup, and finished second in the first-class competition.
The first squad the new selection panel will pick will be for South Africa's series against Pakistan in October. The tour begins October 14 in the UAE, and consists of two Tests, five ODIs and two T20s.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent