What have the Proteas been up to since April?

Blog Opinion

We've done a quick wrap of the names in the 15-man squad, and recapped their time since the international and domestic seasons ended three months ago. Let's look at what they've been up to.

South Africa announced their Test squad to go to Sri Lanka in July, and while the appointment of Hashim Amla as captain was the big news, there were also some developments in terms on new faces.

Spinner Dane Piedt, leading domestic wicket-taker last season, and batsman Stiaan van Zyl were given maiden calls, while a handful of bowlers were shown the door (and also Thami Tsolekile, not so shocking).

So we've done a quick wrap of the names in the 15-man squad, and recapped their time since the international and domestic seasons ended three months ago. Let's look at what they've been up to.

<b>Hashim Amla</b><br>The top-order batsman was out of the game for two months, since the World TWenty20 in Bangladesh where he made a few good but not brilliant scores (top score of 56). He was then rushed to London to play for Surrey at the end of May, when Graeme Smith was ruled out with a fractured knee. Once there he played in two matches, scoring 11 in a First Class game, and then 39 in a T20. He was then jetted back to Johannesburg this week for the captaincy announcement. I'd keep an eye on the Mrs if I were Smith, as Amla is seemingly taking over his life.

<b>Kyle Abbott</b><br>The fast bowler, who took nine wickets on Test dayboo, has been playing for county side Hampshire for the past two months. As soon as his duties with the Dolphins ended in early April, he jetted to Southampton and proceeded to take a five-fer in his first innings. Since then he's been more effective in the four-day game, but has taken regular wickets in the T20 Blast, while maintaining his trademark low economy rate.

<b>Quinton de Kock</b><br>The young wicketkeeper-batsman shot to prominence during the ODI series against India, where he scored three tons in a row, and calls were loud for his Test inclusion. He got his chance against Australia, and top-scored with 34. He's been retained, though his recent form has not been overly impressive. To be fair, he's been playing in the IPL for the dire Delhi Daredevils, playing in seven games and top-scoring with 48. His wicketkeeping was only used once in India. He's not likely to play in Sri Lanka, unless another batsman gets injured.

<b>AB de Villiers</b><br>Poor AB. He was the front-runner for the Test captaincy until Amla chucked his hat into the ring, and now he is tasked with the vice-captaincy. On the plus side for the Proteas, this ensures he'll hold onto the keeping gloves, as he was unlikely to do both jobs. For the past six week's he's been in India with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and the highlight of the trip was the 89 not out he made off 41 balls to bag a one-ball win over the Sunrisers. In that game he smashed countryman Dale Steyn for three sixes in a row.

<b>JP Duminy</b><br>Like much of this squad, Duminy went from the World Twenty20 to the IPL. He was part of Gary Kirsten's Delhi outfit, which should have done much better than it did, given the players they had. Duminy was by far their best batsman, scoring 410 runs at an average of 51.25 and a top score of 67 not out. Despite his efforts, Delhi were dead last, and Kevin Pietersen's captaincy ended in embarrassment. Still, Duminy will be confident of taking that form on the sub-continent back to Sri Lanka.

<b>Faf du Plessis</b><br>Du Plessis was third in the three-horse captaincy race by a good margin, really only in there by virtue of his T20 role. He spent his 'off-season' with the Chennai Super Kings, helping them get to the final with a string of middling knocks, including two half tons. But when it mattered, in the semi-final, he bagged his second duck of the tournament as their formidable international order failed. He averaged 27.54 over 15 matches.

<b>Dean Elgar</b><br>Knights batsman Elgar has not played cricket competitively since the end of the domestic season in early April. Before that he'd done relatively well against Australia in that fateful Test series, top-scoring with 83. Form what we can gather from Twitter, he's spent the past two months watching the IPL and having braais with mates. Hopefully a few nets here and there too, with both bat and ball.

<b>Imran Tahir</b><br>The leggie was another member of the Daredevils, but he had a more successful time than most. After the World T20, where he did quite well for the most part by taking 12 wickets in five games. He then played six matches in the IPL, and though he started with two wicketless games, he rallied to take nine wickets in his final four matches. He is set to be the first-choice spinner, though who will partner him in Robbie P's absence?

<b>Morne Morkel</b><br>The lanky paceman was a key part of Kolkata's eventual IPL title victory. In reality, he didn't take that many wickets, though two in one over in the Qualifier helped them straight to the final, but he was economical when it mattered. He played 12 matches, but didn't get much chance to show off his batting skills. Before the IPL, he played only two games at the WT20 and was dropped after going for 50 in three overs against New Zealand. But he's Steyn's ideal Test foil, and we're confident they'll be confident come July.

<b>Wayne Parnell</b><br>Yet another member of the dire Daredevils (being part of that side is not a good omen, if you're looking for bad omens), PArnell is an interesting inclusion in the Test side. A conservative person might favour Abbott over him come game day, especially if comparing their recent form and experience. Parnell played eight games for the Daredevils, taking eight wickets and going at 7.40 to the over. Otherwise, he's been active on Twitter, posting selfies and pictures of trainers and hats.

<b>Alviro Petersen</b><br>The Proteas opener is one of the few players here who has been plying his trade not in India but in England. This should prove beneficial for the longest format, as he's been in lovely touch for Somerset. Since his arrival in Aprill, he's played three T20s, with a top score of 51, and six County matches. He's bagged three big half tons, with a top score of 94. He's also, obviously, been working on his website.

<b>Vernon Philander</b><br>Big Vern has been virtually in hibernation since early March, after the end of that Test series against Australia. He's not played domestic cricket anywhere that we can see, but instead been doing some charity work and hanging out with political leader Helen Zille. He's had a golf day and been doing blanket drives for the homeless in Cape Town. Better than tweeting selfies of X-Box games, indeed.

<b>Dane Piedt</b><br>The Cobras spinner was the top wicket-taker in the four-day competition that ended in April, and led his side, the Cobras, to the title. He took four five-wicket hauls in his last five games, and ended the season with a nifty 92 with the bat. Since then though he's been out of action, presumably resting up for the new season, until his surprise call up on Tuesday. The 24-year-old has 41 First Class games under his