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August 13, 2013
JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell have been given opportunities to push for Test recalls after being included in South Africa's A-team to play their Indian counterparts in two four-day matches this month. Duminy has not played a Test since rupturing his Achilles' tendon in November last year, while Parnell has not featured for South Africa in over three years.
Neither player will have any doubt that they are on trial, as Duminy will effectively be going toe-to-toe with Dean Elgar for the No.7 position in the batting line-up, while Parnell will be looking to push himself ahead of Rory Kleinveldt, Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange for the reserve bowler's spot.
Duminy's chances of featuring in the Test side would seem higher, having already established himself in the batting line-up with a century against New Zealand on his comeback in March 2012, and making handy lower-middle order contributions during last year's tour of England. He was also part of the team which prevailed in Australia in December last year, and was due to take on a bigger role as an offspinner, but could not take part in the match after the first day as he suffered an injury.
"I had initially planned to play some four day cricket for Surrey for a couple of months but that fell through because of my contractual obligations with the Hyderabad Sunrisers who are playing in the Champions League T20 in September," Duminy said*. "This is the perfect opportunity for me to get back into the feel of four-day cricket after a long time on the sidelines,"
A six-month rehabilitation program saw Duminy miss the entire summer, which gave Faf du Plessis an opportunity to shine, as the latter emulated Duminy's series-winning century at the MCG in 2008-09, with a match-saving 110 of his own, that earned him the right to a sustained run with the senior team.
If Duminy were to make a comeback, it would most likely be at the expense of left-arm batsman Dean Elgar, who had staked his own claim in the side with an impressive 268 against Australia A in Pretoria.
Parnell, on the other hand, will only be battling for a spot on the bench, even as Vincent Barnes, the high performance manager and coach of South Africa A, told ESPNcricinfo that Parnell is "back to his best" after battling through groin and leg injuries recently.
Parnell, who bowled particularly well at the death in the Twenty20 matches during the tour of Sri Lanka, has now been earmarked for the longer version as well.
"Wayne came through the Sri Lanka tour without any injury setbacks so he has now been added to the squad. He has had a lot of injury problems and needs to play as much four-day cricket as possible," Barnes said. Impressive performances from Parnell could see him preferred over a long line of back-up bowlers.
Kleinveldt is one of them and he was also due to play in this series, but a severe cut on his toe has ruled him out. He played only one match in Sri Lanka which he finished with a bloodied boot because of a gash that re-opened.
De Lange is also injured after picking up a rib niggle during the matches against Australia A, and will be monitored closely as the new season approaches. As a result, Abbott is likely to be Parnell's only competition and as both are playing in the series, seemingly for the same spot, it has given a whole new interesting dimension to the upcoming matches.
* August 14 2pm GMT: This story has been updated with JP Duminy quotes
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