Johan Botha during his time as a medium-pacer © Peter J Heeger
South Africa have recalled spinners Justin Ontong and Robin Petersen to the 15-man squad for the five-ODI tour of India, which starts on November 16. There is also a call up for uncapped offspinner Johan Botha, who just over a year ago was bowling medium pace.
Botha, 23, was a moderately successful allrounder for the Eastern Cape Warriors franchise when Mickey Arthur, who has subsequently become the South African team coach, suggested he should work on the offspinners which he occasionally experimented with in the nets.
If Botha gets the nod he will come up against Harbhajan Singh, the man he modelled his spin bowling on - even mastering a version of the doosra. "He was bowling at 125kmh and swinging the ball away," said Arthur. "There are probably 50 guys in the country doing that. He's got the ability to do something different. He's been studying Harbhajan and he's become a very useful spinner who can bowl the doosra and bowl at the death in a one-day game."
Peterson and Ontong have 39 one-day international caps between them, but neither featured in the series against New Zealand. First-choice spinner Nicky Boje and batsman Herschelle Gibbs aren't touring as they weren't assured that they wouldn't be interviewed by the Indian police over previous match-fixing allegations.
"The conditions in India suit spin bowlers and we feel that the time has arrived for us to back them to do the job," said Haroon Lorgat, South Africa's convenor of selectors. "All of the players have been playing SuperSport matches and have shown to be in good form with Johan Botha passed fit after an injury to his left hand."
Jacques Rudolph has been left out of the touring party and told to play in the SuperSport series instead.
South Africa squad Graeme Smith (capt), Johan Botha, Mark Boucher (wk), AB de Villiers, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince.