The Proteas on Tuesday announced a Test squad for next month’s tour to India that illustrates vividly the transition the team is in.
While there’s still a reasonably experienced core in place – captain Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma, Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander – Cricket South Africa’s acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl, surprised with three new caps.
Anrich Nortje, who made his ODI debut earlier this year before cruelly missing the World Cup through a hand injury, is known to some fans, but the inclusions of Senuran Muthusamy and Rudi Second will raise eyebrows.
Here’s the lowdown on who these three men are.
ANRICH NORTJE (WARRIORS)
Many cricketing purists will proclaim that nothing beats pure pace and that’s why the lanky 25-year-old had some tongues wagging a few months ago.
Nortje has been around for a some years now, but it certainly felt as if he was fast-tracked to an extent following a productive Mzansi Super League that was cut short by injury.
Before that, he snapped up 24 first-class wickets at an average of 21.04.
Finally handed a debut against Sri Lanka in March, Nortje certainly made a decent impression, ending with eight wickets in just four games at just under 19 and a respectable economy of under five.
Whether the slow surfaces in India will remotely suit him is another question, but on a fast track he’ll add value.
SENURAN MUTHUSAMY (DOLPHINS)
Your view on his selection depends on how you perceive the local cricketing landscape.
This 25-year-old left-hander is undoubtedly a stalwart in franchise cricket, a capable all-rounder who has a first-class batting average of 33 and bowls his spinners well (127 wickets at 27).
Yet those stats don’t exactly scream out “world-class all-rounder”, even if you argue that he might be the Proteas’ answer to India’s Ravindra Jadeja, who has similar stats.
Muthusamy though was dogged on the South Africa A tour to India in 2018, showcasing a good temperament in difficult conditions.
He’s an out-and-out fighter .. and that’s never a bad thing.
RUDI SECOND (WARRIORS)
The former Knights and now Warriors stalwart is a classic case of an “unfashionable” player whose numbers make one wonder just exactly why he’s considered underrated.
Second, who is also an accomplished wicketkeeper, averages a meaty 45 in first-class cricket, which includes 17 hundreds and shouldn’t be viewed as a one-trick pony given that he also boasts an average of 43 in white-ball cricket.
However, the thing that arguably swayed Van Zyl, who acts as selector temporarily, was his trip to India for SA A last year.
Second was South Africa’s best batsman by a country mile in that challenging series, scoring 235 runs in three innings to end as the leading batter with an average of 78.
That haul included twin 94s in the first “Test”, of which the one in the first innings was a splendid counter-attacking knock off just 139 deliveries.
Much like Rassie van der Dussen, Second’s value lies in the fact that he knows his game inside-out.
Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Senuran Muthusamy, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second.
Proteas T20 squad: Quinton de Kock (c), Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts.