JOHANNESBURG: South Africa named six uncapped players in a 17-man squad for the first two Tests against England, starting at Centurion on December 26.
Five players who played in a recent 3-0 series defeat in India were dropped, while fast bowler Lungi Ngidi was not considered because of a hamstring injury.
The squad will assemble for a training camp on Wednesday, with three of the players to be released to play for South Africa A in a three-day match against England in Benoni, starting on Friday.
The uncapped players are opening batsman Pieter Malan, who may get his chance if Aiden Markram has not fully recovered from injury, top-order batsman Rassie van der Dussen, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius, fast bowlers Dane Paterson and Beuran Hendricks and wicketkeeper-batsman Rudi Second.
The squad is the first to be named by a selection panel which includes new coach Mark Boucher, assistant coach Enoch Nkwe, captain Faf du Plessis and independent selector Linda Zondi.
Despite the large number of uncapped players, there are no major surprises in a squad which includes the core of the players who have represented South Africa in recent times.
Three of the dropped players were spin bowlers – Senuran Muthusamy, George Linde and Dane Piedt – who went to India primarily because of conditions there.
Keshav Maharaj is the only spinner in the squad for the England Tests.
There is no place for top-order batsman Theunis de Bruyn, who played in seven of South Africa s most recent nine Tests, or wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen.
Markram has not played since suffering a broken bone in his hand when he punched a wall in frustration after being dismissed in the second Test against India in Pune in October and he may need to prove both his fitness and form if he is to partner Dean Elgar at the top of the batting order in Centurion.
Regular Test top-order batsman Temba Bavuma, Malan and all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo will play for South Africa A against the tourists, while others, including Markram, are likely to be released to play for their franchises in four-day domestic matches, starting on Thursday.
Squad for first two Tests against England:
Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Beuran Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Pieter Malan, Aiden Markram, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second, Rassie van der Dussen.
South Africa A team to play England:
Dane Piedt (captain), Temba Bavuma, Nandre Burger, Theunis de Bruyn, Reeza Hendricks, Pieter Malan, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lutho Sipamla, Glenton Stuurman, Pite van Biljon, Kyle Verreynne.