Prince overlooked for first two Tests

Ashwell Prince has been left out of the first two Tests against Australia at home, as South Africa picked the 11 who played the three Tests in Australia recently, as well as left-arm swing bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Tsotsobe is the 12th player in the squad for the Johannesburg and Durban Tests, while Prince, Robin Peterson and Monde Zondeki have been dropped.

Selection convener Mike Procter said it was a "difficult decision" to leave out Prince. "We are in the fortunate position of having seven world-class batsmen competing for six positions. It is a very healthy position for South African cricket," said Procter. "Ashwell is understandably bitterly disappointed but he appreciates that he has not had the opportunity to play much cricket since his injury."

Prince averaged 75 in the successful Test series against England last summer but missed the Test series in Australia due to a broken thumb.

"Tsotsobe performed very impressively from limited opportunities in Australia and he gives us extra bowling variety and depth," said Procter. "We are monitoring Mark Boucher's recovery from injury and we are confident that he will be fit to play by the time the series starts."

Mickey Arthur, South Africa's coach, said the recent tour to Australia demonstrated the depth that the team had developed in the batting and bowling departments. "This augurs well for the Test squad going forward into another tough series against Australia. There is also the No. 1 ICC Test ranking at stake which will make the upcoming series even more special for players and supporters."

South African captain Graeme Smith, who is all set to make a comeback from injury by turning out for the Cape Cobras against the Dolphins at Newlands, said the side's success over the past seven months gave them plenty to build on. "We are all looking forward to getting back into the five-day game and the particular challenges that it poses," said Smith. "It will also be wonderful to be playing on our own grounds again in front of our own supporters."

The first Test starts on February 26, while the Durban match begins on March 6.

South Africa Test squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.