The playing field is level - Proteas coach Shukri Conrad ahead of India series

Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad is eager to see what some of the new talent in the squad can deliver, in the upcoming series against a powerful India on their tour to South Africa. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad is eager to see what some of the new talent in the squad can deliver, in the upcoming series against a powerful India on their tour to South Africa. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 5, 2023


The Proteas have selected a trio of exciting fresh talents in Tristan Stubbs, Nandre Burger and David Bedingham in the Test squad for India this coming home summer, while Temba Bavuma and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada will play no part in both white-ball series.

Stubbs, Burger and Bedingham are all uncapped at Test level.

Western Province captain and wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne’s brilliant domestic form has also earned him a recall to the Test squad at Heinrich Klaasen’s expense.

"It is the start of a new ICC World Test Championship cycle and that itself is a huge incentive for everyone,” said Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad.

‘Strong start’

"The playing field is level and we want to try and ensure we make a strong start to this sequence here at home against one of the best teams in the world.

"We have a near full-strength squad to pick from and that in itself is a real boost for us. We have also added some new and exciting faces such as David Bedingham, Nandre Burger and Tristan Stubbs, who make the Test squad for the first time.

"There are others that are also back in the fold after going back to their unions and returning with impressive performances."

Stubbs, who has been capped in both white-formats already, rise to the Test squad may raise eyebrows, but the 23-year-old was the leading run-scorer for South Africa A during the winter tour to Sri Lanka. He is also fresh off a century over the weekend for the Warriors and averages 50.60 overall this season in Cricket SA’s 4-Day competition.

Bedingham, meanwhile, has been chosen primarily on the basis of his consistent good red-ball form for Durham in the English County Championship the past few seasons. The 29-year-old only recently committed to wanting to play for the Proteas after initially looking to qualify for England.

Lions batter Ryan Rickelton is the unfortunate victim of these circumstances with the talented left-hander being omitted after playing the final Test of last summer against the West Indies at the Wanderers.

“The guys that have come in - Stubbs and Bedingham - are ahead of him," Conrad said. "I don't think he challenges Kyle Verreynne as the wicket-keeper. At the time (that Rickelton played) there was no news on David's availability and desire to play for South Africa and since then Stubbo has also showed so much."

Burger, meanwhile, has been the fastest bowler on the domestic circuit for the past two seasons and his extra pace will be welcomed in the Test squad particularly due to Anrich Nortje still on the injured list.

With India also resting stalwarts Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for the white-ball section of the summer, the Proteas have followed suit with Bavuma and Rabada.

Ngidi and Jansen only available for parts of T20I series

Seamers Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen will also only be available for sections of the T20I series, but will play no part in the ODI’s.

This has resulted in a maiden T20I call-up for Dolphins seamer Ottniel Baartman, while young Western Province all-rounder Mihlali Mpongwana also earned a first call-up to the Proteas ODI squad.

Baartman performed consistently well for the championship-winning Sunrisers Eastern Cape in the Betway SA20 last season, while Mpongwana starred for Western Province in their successful Cricket 1-Day Championship campaign recently.

Bavuma’s white-ball omission is largely for the Test skipper to mentally prepare for the two-match series against India, which starts on Boxing Day in Centurion.

“Temba’s been phenomenal throughout the year, but there’s a mental toll in terms of the pressures of a World Cup,” said Proteas white-ball coach Rob Walter. “The scrutiny on a captain is even more pronounced.

“For him to step away for a while and prioritise being ready for the Test series is important to us. In fact, we want all of our key players to be in the best shape for that [Test] series and that drove our decision-making.

“It may seem a progressive decision, but it was actually an easy call to make. All three of us [Walter, Bavuma and Test coach Shukri Conrad] were on the same page. We didn’t deliberate long – it was the right thing to do for Temba and his cricket.”

Both white-ball squads will be captained by Aiden Markram.

South Africa T20I squad:

Aiden Markram (captain), Ottniel Baartman, Matthew Breetzke, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee (1st and 2nd T20Is), Donovan Ferreira, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen (1st and 2nd T20Is), Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi (1st and 2nd T20Is), Andile Phehlukwayo , Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs, Lizaad Williams

South Africa ODI squad:

Aiden Markram (captain), Ottniel Baartman, Nandre Burger, Tony de Zorzi, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Mihlali Mpongwana, David Miller, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams

South Africa Test squad:

Temba Bavuma (captain), David Bedingham, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada, Tristan Stubbs and Kyle Verreynne.