Opening batsman Aiden Markram is set to make his international debut in the first Test against Bangladesh, which starts from September 28 in Potchefstroom. South Africa have also recalled seam-bowling allrounder Wayne Parnell to the 13-member squad for the first match, pending a fitness test, with Vernon Philander, Chris Morris and Dale Steyn all ruled out due to injury. Markram and allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo were the only two uncapped players in the format in the squad. Both were part of the Test side during South Africa’s tour of England earlier this year but did not get a game.
Makram was picked for the England tour as cover for Faf du Plessis, who missed the first Test because of the birth of his child, but remained with the senior team to gain experience. He then captained South Africa A in the two four-dayers against a touring India A side, scoring two half-centuries in a series tally of 194. Markram, who captained South Africa to victory in the Under-19 World Cup in 2014, had a breakthrough domestic season in 2016-17. He was the third-highest run-getter in the Momentum One Day Cup, scoring 508 runs in nine innings with two centuries, including one that helped Titans clinch the title. He was consistent in the Sunfoil Series first-class competition, too, with two centuries and two fifties in a run tally of 565 at an average of 51.36.
Nineteen-year-old Lions allrounder Willem Mulder was invited as cover for Parnell, who will undergo a fitness test next week. Parnell had missed the opening round of first-class fixtures this week after suffering a groin strain in training. He last played competitive cricket at the Caribbean Premier League. If Parnell is fit, Mulder will return to the Lions team for the Sunfoil Series. Parnell last played a Test for South Africa in the home series against Sri Lanka in January. He was included in the squad for the New Zealand tour in March, before being dropped for the England tour.
Linda Zondi, the convener of CSA’s selection panel, lauded Markram’s maturity and said that Phehlukwayo and Parnell were picked to give the team balance.
“Aiden has been knocking on the door for some time now,” Zondi said. “He gained valuable insight into the Proteas team culture during the tour of England and he has shown maturity beyond his years, having captained South Africa to victory in the Under-19 World Cup and as captain of the South Africa A four-day side.
“The inclusion of Andile and Wayne provides the necessary all-rounders to give options as concerns the balance of the starting XI. The selection of some younger players is part of the process to build for the future and at the same time maintain our hard core of experience.”