South Africa turn to spin for second West Indies Test

South Africa’s Simon Harmer. File.

South Africa’s Simon Harmer. File.
| Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Spin pair Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer have been drafted into South Africa’s team for the second Test against West Indies, coach Shukri Conrad announced on Tuesday.

All-rounder Wiaan Mulder and in-form batsman Ryan Rickelton also come into the starting XI at the Wanderers on Wednesday as South Africa look to build on their 87-run win in the first Test at Centurion.

Injured fast bowler Anrich Nortje gives way while spinning all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy, batsman Keegan Petersen and fast bowler Marco Jansen have all been left out.

The inclusion of two spinners is a rarity for South African teams playing at the Wanderers. Left-arm spinner Maharaj, 33, and off-spinner Harmer, 34, both return having played in harness together in the Sydney Test against Australia in January.

Conrad said the selection of two spinners was based on a tendency for the Wanderers pitch to offer some spin over the past year, while he said left-arm quick Jansen “deserves a bit of a break”.

The pace attack of Kagiso Rabada and Gerald Coetzee will get some backing from medium-paced all-rounder Mulder.

Rickelton, a wicketkeeper-batsman who played his three Tests last year making a best score of 42 against Bangladesh in Gqeberha, replaces an out-of-sorts Petersen at number five.

Heinrich Klaasen, however, will retain the wicketkeeper role.

Conrad pointed out that every player in the 15-man squad “has got an opportunity to play”.

Conrad also pleaded for more Test cricket for both South Africa and the West Indies, saying both teams had a proud history at the highest level.

“If there is a lack of Test cricket, interest could start to wane,” he said.

“We don’t play a lot of Test cricket so we’ve got to find novel ways of finding out about these guys,” he said.

Conrad said he wanted to have a settled Test squad by the time India arrive for South Africa’s next Test series in December.

Asked how that would be possible given the lack of Test fixtures, Conrad said he hoped to take a South Africa A team on tour which would include some of the younger members of the current Test squad.

South Africa team:

Temba Bavuma (captain), Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Tony de Zorzi, Ryan Rickelton, Heinrich Klaasen (wkt), Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Gerald Coetzee

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