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'Seminal moment for Test cricket': Alarm bells as South Africa names seven new faces in second-rate NZ tour squad

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30th December, 2023
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South Africa have thumbed their nose at the tradition of Test cricket by announcing a second-rate squad to tour New Zealand due to a clash with their domestic T20 competition.

Uncapped opener Neil Brand has been named captain for the two-Test tour which starts on February 4 and the majority of the team which beat India by an innings earlier this week have not been chosen so they can be available for the SA20 league.

Only three members of the current Test squad – Keegan Petersen, David Bedingham and Zubayr Hamza – will head to New Zealand.

Cricket South Africa’s decision to send a weakened squad could lead to massive ramifications.

New Zealand would be well within their rights to protest to the ICC – it will be tough to get crowds or TV viewers to watch the matches when the opposition is missing most of their stars.

Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Kyle Verreynne, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj are all attached to SA20 franchises and will turn out for the white-ball competition instead of representing their country at international level.

Former skipper Dean Elgar is retiring from Test cricket after the India series so he will also not head to New Zealand.

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There are seven uncapped players in the Proteas squad with Duanne Olivier’s 15 Tests making him the most experienced representative.

Cricket journalist Bharat Sundaresan described the squad as a ‘seminal moment for Test cricket outside India, England, Australia and maybe Pakistan’.

CSA had requested for this series to be moved to a different date so they could avoid a clash with their domestic T20 commitments.

“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,” coach Shukri Conrad said in an official CSA statement.

“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 Test squad: Neil Brand (c), David Bedingham, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin (wicketkeeper), 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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