Neil McKenzie's Test career is at the crossroads after he was dropped along with Morne Morkel for the third Test in Cape Town. Ashwell Prince will return to the side as captain to replace the injured Graeme Smith and Prince will also take Smith's role as opener, alongside the Dolphins batsman Imraan Khan, who is in line for his Test debut.
Albie Morkel has a chance to make his first Test appearance having been retained in the squad, while the uncapped fast bowler Wayne Parnell has also been included. McKenzie and Morkel have paid the price for their indifferent form during this series and McKenzie also failed to have a significant impact during the tour of Australia.
"It's disappointing for Neil, especially at this stage of his career," Smith said. "It's going to be difficult for him to come back at this stage of his career to stake a claim for this position again.
"Morne is different, he's still very young. He's got a lot of learning to do about himself. The more he bowls and plays the more he'll understand his strengths and weaknesses and what he needs to do out in the middle. Morne has a great future ahead of him, he just needs to develop."
The inclusion of Prince was not a surprise after he missed all three Tests in Australia due to a broken thumb and then failed to win back his place due to the strong form of JP Duminy. However, South Africa did not want to mess with their proven middle order so Prince will be thrust into the unfamiliar opening position.
The convenor of selectors, Mike Procter, conceded it was a risky move to play two new openers against an Australian bowling attack that had thrived in the first two Tests. "I accept that maybe it is a bit of a gamble having two new guys up front," Procter said, "but we didn't want to disrupt three, four, five and six who have been fantastic.
"Ashwell coming back, he's obviously captain. We just believe he's got the technique of an opening batsman. He hasn't opened before but he's obviously faced the new ball in the position he used to bat for South Africa when they had all the successes that they've had over the past 18 months.
"We don't feel that there's a huge change there. He was taken a little bit by surprise that he would be opening but he accepted it and he's looking forward to the challenge."
Khan, 24, is coming off a recent century against the Australians in the tour match in Potchefstroom, which swayed the selectors in his favour. With Smith to return after the Cape Town Test, Procter's panel will need to decide which of Prince or Khan will hold his place for the team's next series.
"A lot depends on what happens in Cape Town," Procter said. "A lot depends on how the guys perform at Supersport level prior to England coming here next year. I suppose you can say it's a bit of a stop-gap situation. Three, four, five and six in the line-up are pretty well cemented. They've had an unbelievable run. They're all world-class players, as Ashwell is, so we'll just take it step by step."
South Africa also named a 15-man squad for the two Twenty20 matches against Australia that follow the Tests. The uncapped Yusuf Abdulla and Roelof van der Merwe have been included while Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis will be rested.
South Africa Test squad Ashwell Prince (capt), Imraan Khan, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher (wk), Paul Harris, Albie Morkel, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Wayne Parnell.
South Africa Twenty20 squad Herschelle Gibbs, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Justin Ontong, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Mark Boucher (wk), Johann Louw, Roelof van der Merwe, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha (capt), Dale Steyn, Robin Peterson, Wayne Parnell, Yusuf Abdulla.