McLaren and Parnell included in Test squad for Australia series


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McLaren and Parnell are likely to play a crucial role in the series

South Africa all-rounder Ryan McLaren and left-arm pace bowler Wayne Parnell have both been included in the Test squad for the upcoming three-Test series against Australia, which gets underway on February 12 in Centurion.

This will also be the first time in 18 years that South Africa head into a Test series without all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who bid adieu to the longer format of the game following the Proteas’ recent Test triumph over India.

“The mental shift is going to be just as important as the statistical shift,” South Africa head coach Russell Domingo said. “We’re not looking for another Jacques Kallis, we’re looking for someone to step up to the plate.”

One other major change to the squad was the exclusion of spinner Imran Tahir, who has been struggling as of late.

“We’ve got guys in the squad that are replacement batsmen and replacement seamers,” South Africa’s convener of selectors Andrew Hudson said. “Our formula has worked so we don’t need to make any left-field selections. We felt Robbie P is our spin option for the series. It fits in with the style of cricket that we want to play. We haven’t gone past Imran. As an attacking leg-spinner he is a huge option for us when we play in the subcontinent.”

It was also announced that left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks and off-spinner Simon Harmer will be net bowlers ahead of the first Test.

Domingo also revealed that Faf du Plessis will be promoted up the order and take over Kallis’ coveted number four spot.

“Faf is the guy we are earmarking to bat at No. 4,” Domingo said. “He got a big hundred batting there against India to save a Test and he has scored runs for the Titans batting there.”

Domingo also hinted that Parnell is likely to get the nod ahead of the first Test.

“He has done really well for the Warriors,” he said. “He has improved his consistency and the big plus is that he is a guy who can bowl 140.

“He is also more than capable with the bat. He is still young and there are going to be inconsistencies in his performance but he can become a major player for SA in all formats.”

However, Domingo added that he may continue experimenting with the side by moving players around.

“It’s not going to be a set strategy like we had in the past,” he said. “Something got to give. Either we will have four seamers, no spinner or only six batters.

“I like going into matches with a spin bowler. If we are expecting JP to pick up five wickets that’s going to be a big ask for him. He is still a long way away from being a frontline spinner in Test cricket.”

Domingo also defended the national selectors’ decision not to include wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock in the side.

De Kock has been in red hot form as of late as he became only the fifth player in history to score three back-to-back ODI centuries, which he accomplished against India in December.

“Quinny is a massively talented player but a series against Australia is such a tough environment to come into for your first Test series,” Domingo said. “We play lower profile Test series later in the year and maybe then we can look to blood someone like Quinton. He has got a lot of development to do as a person and a cricketer and I don’t want to do him a disservice by rushing him in.”

Domingo was also pleased to have a lot of time to prepare prior to the start of the first Test.

“That will be a big plus for us,” Domingo said. “When we went to Dubai there was no cricket but now everybody has been playing. We will be doing analysis in a less rushed environment, which will also be good. Australia will always be a formidable outfit and we want to focus hard on our strategies.”

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