Kallis returns to ODI squad
Jacques Kallis has been named in South Africa's ODI squad for the series against Pakistan and India, and will return to the ODI format after an absence of a year and nine months in a bid to book his place for the 2015 World Cup.
After making his intention to play in one more global event known to new coach Russell Domingo over the winter break, Kallis was due to return for the seven-match ODI series against India. However, with India scheduled to play only three ODIs in South Africa, Kallis will also play in the series against Pakistan, ending a hiatus from the fifty-over format that stretches back to February 2012.
Kallis has missed South Africa's last 29 ODIs including an away series against England last June and home matches against New Zealand and Pakistan in the 2012/13 summer. He opted out of the Champions Trophy in June for personal reasons and did not join the team for a limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka in August and the Pakistan series in the UAE.
In his absence, all-rounder Ryan McLaren finally found a regular place in the starting XI. McLaren's stocks have steadily risen and he was recently named Man of the Series for his performances in the five-match series against Pakistan.
Andrew Hudson, the convenor of selectors said: "As well as Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell have done as emerging allrounders, it is very welcome news to have Jacques back as our premium all-rounder. There is no substitute for the experience he brings to the game." However in spite of this statement, there is no indication yet that McLaren will be sacrificed to make room for Kallis.
Instead, Twenty20 captain Faf du Plessis has been given the axe after a poor run in ODIs over the last few months. Du Plessis has scored just two fifties in his last 20 ODI innings, one of them against the Netherlands.
Being left out has given Du Plessis the time he needed to get married this Saturday, the day before the Pakistan series starts. He was due to return from his honeymoon in time for the third ODI against Pakistan. Despite his own scheduling, the selectors have left him out of both the Pakistan and India series to give him time to find form at franchise level.
Du Plessis will need to find runs in the longest format, because the domestic competitions have moved into first-class mode. That may not be a bad thing for the batsman. With the Tests against India looming and du Plessis having last scored a half-century in whites five Tests ago in January, he could use time in the middle ahead of the home summer.
For Robin Peterson, the snub could signal a little more. Peterson lost his Test place to Imran Tahir in Dubai last month, was left out of the T20 side against Pakistan and has now been overlooked for the ODI squad. Peterson was ineffective in the Abu Dhabi Test but his exclusion has come more as a result of the rebirth of Imran Tahir than any wrongdoing on his part, as Hudson explained.
"We have dropped Robbie Peterson out of the squad as Imran Tahir is in outstanding form and we are unlikely to use more than one specialist spinner in a home series," Hudson said. "He will be able to gain valuable time in the middle playing in the Sunfoil series."
With Peterson still playing first-class cricket, there's every chance he will be considered for the Test at home. However at 34 years, if he is passed by for the next few series, he may look back on this as the beginning of the end.
Although South Africa lose a fair amount of experience with Peterson out of the side, they are balanced by the return of a fit Graeme Smith. The Test captain missed the last three ODIs against Pakistan after suffering from post-concussion syndrome but has fully recovered and was seen having a net with Russell Domingo in Johannesburg. Smith's return means South Africa have choice at the top of the order with both Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock in the squad.
They have similar options in the bowling department with five seamers to pick from, including Vernon Philander, who has been retained after making his ODI comeback in Dubai recently.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent