Cricket South Africa on Thursday named three specialist spin bowlers in their squad to play four Test matches in India in November and December.
Simon Harmer, who played in a recent series in Bangladesh, will be joined by fellow off-spinner Dane Piedt and recalled leg-spinner Imran Tahir. A fourth spin option is provided by top-order batsman JP Duminy.
The biggest surprise in the 15-man Test squad is the omission of talented wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock. Selection convener Linda Zondi said Dane Vilas, who played in the second Test against Bangladesh last month, would retain the gloves.
De Kock, who struggled to regain his best batting form after being injured during the first Test against the West Indies in Centurion last season, was dropped after being dismissed for a duck in the first Test in Bangladesh.
He joined a South Africa A tour of India and reeled off three successive centuries, two in one-day matches against India A and a third in the first of two four-day matches. He was included in South Africa’s squads for three Twenty20 internationals and five one-day internationals.
Vilas, 30, only saw one day of action during his Test debut in Mirpur, taking two catches in a rain-shortened first day before the rest of the match was rained off.
“It is very important that we maintain consistency in our selections and Dane hardly had the chance to make his mark in Bangladesh where the series was so badly disrupted by the weather,” said Zondi.
Piedt made an outstanding Test debut against Zimbabwe in Harare in August 2014, taking a wicket with his first ball and going on to claim match figures of eight for 152. But he suffered a serious shoulder injury at the start of the 2014/15 season.
He showed he had made a full recovery to full fitness and form during the recent South Africa A tour of India when he took 11 wickets in three first-class innings.
Tahir, who has been South Africa’s outstanding one-day spin bowler in recent years, has been unable to replicate that form in Tests, where his 43 wickets in 16 matches have come at a cost of 46.39 runs each.
“I believe we have covered all our bases by having both holding and attacking spin options in our squad,” said Zondi.
“It is good to have Dane back from his injury and Imran was our number one spinner for our last Test series on the sub-continent against Sri Lanka (in 2014).”
The only uncapped player in the Test squad is fast bowler Kagiso Rabada.
It will be South Africa’s longest tour in recent history, spanning 72 days. Zondi said the length of the tour was a factor in deciding not to include fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in the squad for the T20 matches at the start of the tour. Instead, there are recalls for Chris Morris and Marchant de Lange.
Batsman Khaya Zondo is the only uncapped player in the T20 squad, replacing Rilee Rossouw, who has an injury which will prevent him from joining the tour before the one-day matches.
Test squad: Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers (vice-captain), Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Simon Harmer, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas (wkt).
ODI squad: AB de Villiers (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.
T20 squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), Marchant de Lange, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, David Wiese, Khaya Zondo.