Morkel returns, uncapped Klaasen also called up

“We believe he is now 100% fit and fully able to compete for his place in the team”

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

South Africa pace bowler Morne Morkel has been included in the squad for the upcoming Test series against New Zealand, along with uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen.

Morkel has not played international cricket since June 2016 due to a back injury and only recently made a full recovery. In fact, during his time on the sidelines, the 32-year-old was told that he would never be able to play the sport he loved again.

But, Morkel refused to give up and proved his fitness by bowling eight overs for the Titans in their in a Momentum Cup clash with the Dolphins.

In addition to Morkel, South Africa’s pace attack also includes Vernon Philander, who recently recovered from an ankle injury, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Wayne Parnell and Chris Morris.

“Morne Morkel has worked hard on his fitness over the past few months and we believe he is now 100% fit and fully able to compete for his place in the team,” South Africa’s selection convener Linda Zondi said. “We have six quality fast bowlers in the squad and that shows just how much of depth the country has in this department.”

Meanwhile, with veteran batsman AB de Villiers having opted out of the majority of South Africa’s Test series for 2017, the Proteas have selected Theunis de Bruyn and Klaasen, who plays for the Titans.

Klaasen had a strong showing in the Sunfoil Series, which is South Africa’s first class competition, as he finished seventh on the batting chart with 635 runs, which includes a century and four fifties, in nine matches at an average of 48.84.

Klaasen’s selection also stems from the fact that South Africa can no longer call on Dane Vilas as he signed a Kolpak deal with Lancashire in January.

De Bruyn, who has also yet to make his Test debut, was the third-highest run-scorer in the Sunfoil Series, amassing 751 runs, which included two hundreds and four half-centuries, from nine matches at an average of 57.76.

“Heinrich Klaasen was one of the top performers throughout the season and he is rewarded for his form by being included in the Test squad,” Zondi said. “With Dane Vilas no longer available for selection, it was an opportunity to reward someone else. This will be an excellent opportunity for Heinrich and we wish him all the best.”

The three-Test series between New Zealand and South Africa begins on March 8 in Dunedin.

South Africa Test Squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Theunis de Bruyn, Heinrich Klaasen, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris.

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