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Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Thursday gave a full vote of confidence to the players who won the Test series in Australia when they named a squad of 13 players for the two-match Sunfoil Test Series to be played against New Zealand next month. The first match takes place at Sahara Park Newlands from January 2 and the second will be played at Axxess St. George's from January 11.
"I don't think anybody will be surprised that we have kept faith with the 11 players who did duty in the winning Test match against Australia at Perth as well as Rory Kleinveldt and Jacques Rudolph, who played two Test matches each," commented CSA selection convener Andrew Hudson.
"There is every indication at this stage that Jacques Kallis will be fully fit to fill his all-rounder's role which will get us back to the balance that has served us so well this year with a combination of seven specialist batsmen and five specialist bowlers.
"Being able to field seven specialist batsmen was a key factor in both the Test series successes against England and Australia, most notably at Adelaide where we had to bat long and deep to get ourselves out of trouble.
"AB de Villiers has kept wicket exceptionally well since taking the gloves from Mark Boucher and having two quality all-rounders among our top five batsmen has added a great deal to the side.
"Thami Tsolekile remains our back-up wicketkeeper should the need arise.
"It was a tough call to leave out Imran Tahir but we have to acknowledge that Robin Peterson put up an outstanding performance at Perth where he made a significant contribution to our victory. Imran remains very much in our plans going forward."
Test squad: Graeme Smith (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras, capt), Hashim Amla (Sunfoil Dolphins), AB de Villiers (Nashua Titans), Faf du Plessis (Nashua Titans), Dean Elgar (Chevrolet Knights), Jacques Kallis (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Rory Kleinveldt (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Morne Morkel (Nashua Titans), Alviro Petersen (bizhub Highveld Lions), Robin Peterson (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Vernon Philander (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Jacques Rudolph (Nashua Titans), Dale Steyn (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras).
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