Neil Brand captains makeshift South Africa Test squad to New Zealand


Uncapped opening batter Neil Brand has been named South Africa’s captain for their two-Test tour to New Zealand, which starts on February 4 and clashes with the SA20. South Africa will travel with a makeshift squad, which features only three players that are part of the ongoing series against India: Keegan Petersen, David Bedingham and Zubayr Hamza, who was added as a replacement following Temba Bavuma’s hamstring injury. None of the first-choice bowling attack are available for the series, which is part of the World Test Championship (WTC).
The bulk of the squad currently playing the India series will be unavailable because they will be engaged in the SA20 which begins on January 10. That ruled out Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Tristan Stubbs, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Nandre Burger, Wiaan Mulder, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj. Dean Elgar will not be involved in the T20 tournament but he is retiring from Test cricket in the New Year.

Red-ball coach Shukri Conrad’s plans were dealt a last-minute blow as well when Durban’s Super Giants signed Tony de Zorzi, who was slated to open the batting for South Africa in New Zealand, on Thursday morning. In all South Africa have seven uncapped players to go with seven capped players. Seamer Duanne Olivier, who played 15 Tests between 2017 and 2022 is the most experienced, followed by Petersen (12).

South Africa’s 2023-25 WTC campaign began on Boxing Day, where they beat India by an innings and 32 runs to get their first points on the board. They will only play two-Test series for the entirety of this campaign including away trips to New Zealand, the West Indies and Bangladesh, and home series against India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. CSA attempted to get the New Zealand series moved in order to choose a stronger squad but was unable to and has left Conrad with the task of trying to get away points without his best players. But, South Africa have never lost a Test series to New Zealand and Conrad had earlier said he “backs himself to come back with something” from a trip where he could hand on as many as seven debuts.

“The players picked for this tour have every chance of challenging New Zealand and we have full confidence they will do exactly that when we arrive for the first Test match at Mount Maunganui,” he said in a statement put out by CSA. “Most of these guys participated in the recent A series against West Indies where they showed that they have what it takes against players of international calibre. That experience will no doubt leave them in a better position for what we expect to be a testing series in New Zealand.”

South Africa will travel with their usual support staff, none of whom are involved in the SA20, apart from batting consultant Ashwell Prince, who joined them for the India Tests. Prince is commentating on the SA20 and Imraan Khan, former Test batter and current Dolphins coach, will go to New Zealand in that role for this series.

South Africa Test squad: Neil Brand (capt), David Bedingham, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin (wk), Zubayr Hamza, Tshepo Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Dane Piedt, Raynard van Tonder, Shaun von Berg, Khaya Zondo

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