De Villiers, Steyn back in Proteas squad for inaugural four-day Test

Johannesburg [South Africa]: Wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers and fast bowler Dale Steyn have made their long-awaited return to the 14-man national Test squad for the inaugural day-night Test against Zimbabwe, beginning at the St. George’s Park in Port Elizabeth from Boxing Day.

De Villiers, regarded as one of the best batsmen of his generation and also as one of the greatest of all time, stepped down from Test captaincy in December 2016 following an elbow injury, which kept him out of the team for a long period. Later a self-imposed exile sidelined him from Tests in 2017.

The 34-year-old has been out of action since injuring his shoulder during a series against Australia in Perth in November last year. He recently made a return from long injury lay-off when he played for Titans in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge last month.

Meanwhile, Vernon Philander has also been recalled in the Proteas squad after missing the most recent series against Bangladesh following an injury picked up during the winter tour to England.

Reflecting on de Villiers and Steyn’s inclusion, Cricket South Africa (CSA) National Selection Panel Convener Linda Zondi said that he feels really excited to have the two icons of the game back in the longest format of the game.

“It is a very exciting moment not just for South Africa but for world cricket to have Dale and AB, two icons of the game, back in the multi-day format. After Zimbabwe we have two very tough home Test Series coming up against India, the No. 1 ranked side in the world, and Australia, who have just regained the Ashes in their current series against England,” Zondi said.

“AB and Dale bring loads of experience to the side apart from being two of the South African all-time greats.It is also good to have Vernon back and it is very encouraging that our four premium fast bowlers – Steyn, Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel – are all back in the selection mix,” he also said about Vernon.

Skipper Faf du Plessis, who was earlier doubtful for the day-night Test against Zimbabwe as Cricket South Africa was considering not to rush with his inclusion in the squad, has returned to the team after remaining out of action for six weeks.

The 33-year-old has not played cricket since sustaining an acute lumbar disc injury during the third ODI against Bangladesh late October and was subsequently sidelined for six weeks.

Following lone Test against Zimbabwe, South Africa are slated to host India for three-match Test series, six ODIs and threeT20Is, starting on January 5 in Cape Town.

Standard Bank Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma , Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj , Aiden Markram , Morne Morkel , Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn. (ANI)