South Africa’s Test coach Shukri Conrad and eight Test players will lead a strong South Africa A squad to Sri Lanka for three one-day matches and two four-day games in June.
In the absence of any Test cricket until December, Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket Enoch Nkwe has sought to fill gaps in the calendar with as much A team cricket as possible to ready the red-ball players for the next World Test Championship cycle, while the white-ball matches will help Sri Lanka prepare for the World Cup Qualifiers. South Africa will know if they have avoided that event at the conclusion of Bangladesh’s series against Ireland next month. Should Ireland win 3-nil, South Africa may have to join Sri Lanka at the competition in Zimbabwe as Ireland and South Africa will be level on 98 points on the ODI Super League points table. If Bangladesh win at least one game, South Africa will remain out of action until September, when they host Australia for a white-ball tour.
The trip to Sri Lanka to face Sri Lanka A will give game time to new Test batter Tony de Zorzi, who has been picked to captain the side, as well as several players pushing for permanent spots in the Test XI. Gerald Coetzee, who debuted against West Indies, Keegan Petersen, who has been in and out with injuries and Kyle Verreynne, who Conrad dropped as wicketkeeper are among them.
It also marks a return to the set-up for Zubayr Hamza, who was banned from cricket for nine months last May for a doping violation but has since returned for Western Province. Hamza moves to the up-country to Lions next season. Other Test caps include spinning allrounder Senuran Muthusamy and bowlers Lutho Sipamla and Lizaad Williams.
South Africa have also included young batters Dewald Brevis, who has only three first-class and six List A games to his name, Tristan Stubbs and Jordan Hermann, all of whom are under the ages of 22. Brevis and Stubbs are currently at the IPL but Brevis has not played a game while Stubbs has appeared once to date.
“The squad reflects the next crop of players that are emerging from our pipeline. We also rewarded those who have performed for their respective domestic teams this past summer,” Nkwe said. The tour will provide the opportunity for those players, together with the younger Proteas, to put their skills to the test in highly competitive, international conditions. It will also serve to strengthen the batting depth in the red-ball department, as we build towards the Test series against India later this year.”
Test batting coach Justin Sammons and bowling coach Piet Botha will also be on the trip, with matches to be played in Kandy and Dambulla from June 4.