Five talking points after this week’s announcement of the South Africa A squad.
1. Brand over de Zorzi
Western Province’s Tony de Zorzi was captain during South Africa A’s tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year. This time, Titans all-rounder Neil Brand has been named captain. De Zorzi is still in the squad.
“Tony, for me, is a natural-born leader. His leadership in the past speaks for itself,” Test and South Africa A coach Shukri Conrad told IOL in June 2023.
This week, Conrad said: “Neil will captain the side as he possesses that toughness and resilience that we are always after. We’re excited to show what he’s about at this level.”
2. Fortuin the only wicketkeeper
Boland’s Clyde Fortuin is effectively the only specialist wicketkeeper in the squad.
Western Province’s David Bedingham has kept wicket in professional cricket, but not recently.
3. Paterson, Piedt and other 30-somethings
The 33-year-old Khaya Zondo, 33-year-old Dane Piedt, 34-year-old Dane Paterson and 34-year-old Hardus Viljoen have been selected alongside the 23-year-old Mihlali Mpongwana and 25-year-old Ruan de Swardt.
“We’ve selected a blend of experienced campaigners and promising talents for the upcoming South Africa A tour against West Indies A,” said Conrad.
4. Test prospects
Some players in this South Africa A squad will likely be included in the Test XI for early next year’s series against New Zealand. The Proteas’ tour of New Zealand will coincide with the SA20.
Several first-choice Proteas players are contracted to SA20 franchises. “The squad was selected with the upcoming two-match Test series against New Zealand in mind,” said Conrad.
“This tour holds immense significance as it will afford players the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities as we prepare for the international season ahead.”
5. International experience
More than half South Africa A’s 15-man squad has played Test cricket, including batsmen de Zorzi and Keegan Petersen, seamers Paterson, Viljoen and Duanne Olivier.
All-rounder Mpongwana, batsman Bedingham and wicketkeeper Fortuin are among the seven players in the squad without Test experience.
South Africa A squad
- Neil Brand (Titans, captain)
- David Bedingham (Western Province)
- Ruan de Swardt (North West)
- Tony de Zorzi (Western Province)
- Clyde Fortuin (Boland)
- Zubayr Hamza (Lions)
- Tshepo Moreki (Lions)
- Mihlali Mpongwana (Western Province)
- Duanne Olivier (Lions)
- Dane Paterson (Western Province)
- Keegan Petersen (Boland)
- Dane Piedt (Knights)
- Raynard van Tonder (North West)
- Hardus Viljoen (Boland)
- Khaya Zondo (Dolphins)