Du Plessis to lead South Africa in New Zealand Test series

"I am confident that, with Faf at the helm, the team will build on this success.” says AB de Villiers.

AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel out with injury; Vernon Philander and Wayne Parnell return to squad

Faf du Plessis has been been appointed captain of the South Africa Test squad in place of the injured AB de Villiers for the upcoming two-match series against New Zealand at home.

The Cricket South Africa medical team has advised both de Villiers and Morne Morkel to take six weeks off to nurse their respective injuries – de Villiers is recuperating from an elbow niggle, while Morkel has a mild back pain due to a bulging disk. Both of them should be in the mix for the One-Day International series against Australia at home in October.

“AB complained of pain in his left elbow while he was participating in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League) and subsequent MRI scans revealed an impingement of the joint capsule,” said Dr Mohammed Moosajee, the South Africa team manager, on Tuesday (August 2). “He has since been released from the CPL and will need extensive rehab and treatment during a recovery period of between six and eight weeks.

“Morne has been suffering from mild back pain of which scans and further investigation by a specialist revealed a bulging disk. He will also require rehab and a recovery period of between four and six weeks. We are hoping to have both players fully fit and available for selection for the start of the Momentum ODI series against Australia in October.”

De Villiers, who hadn’t missed a Test because of injury in his 12-year career, was disappointed at missing out, but backed du Plessis to do a good job. “I’m naturally disappointed to miss the Test series against New Zealand, particularly because I have not missed a Test match through injury since my debut in 2004,” he said. “However, with an exciting summer of cricket ahead, it is obviously sensible to give my elbow time to heal properly. The Proteas finished last season on a positive note with a win against England in the last Sunfoil Test match, and I am confident that, with Faf at the helm, the team will build on this success.”

Wayne Parnell and Vernon Philander are the only members of the 15-man squad who did not play in South Africa’s last Test series, against England in January.

In preparation of the Test series against New Zealand, South Africa A locked horns with Zimbabwe A in two four-day matches in Harare and Bulawayo in July, giving a chance to those looking to cement a berth in the senior teams.

Philander returned to ‘international’ action in that series after an eight-month break, caused by an ankle ligament injury he picked up in India last November while playing a game of football with his mates.

“Injuries are a reality that we have to deal with and with both Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander fit and firing again after their respective long-term injuries, I am confident that we have the players to take on New Zealand and win,” said Linda Zondi, Cricket South Africa’s selection convener.

“Another very encouraging sign is the good pre-season form being shown by a number of Test squad members during the two South Africa A four-day series. These include Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Stiaan van Zyl, Vernon Philander and Dane Piedt.”

First Test at Kingsmead in Duban – August 19 to August 23
Second Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion – August 27 to August 31

Squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock (wk), JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl.