South Africa got off to an excellent start in their ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 campaign. In their first match of the tournament, the Rainbow Nation secured an emphatic win by an innings against India. The Proteas side is set to play one more Test against the Rohit Sharma-led side starting January 3.
South Africa will then tour New Zealand for their second series of WTC 2023-25. The squad for the upcoming 2-match Test series against New Zealand has recently been announced, and it is filled with unfamiliar names. Even the team captain has yet to make his debut for South Africa.
Neil Brand Set to Debut as Captain for South Africa
Neil Brand has been named South Africa’s captain for the two Test matches scheduled to be played in February 2023. The 27 years old Brand has played 51 first-class matches in domestic cricket. He is a batting all-rounder who bowls off-spin. Neil Brand was part of Joburg Super Kings in SA20 2023 but ahead of the upcoming season, the CSK-owned franchise released him. In the SA20 2024 Auction, he didn’t find any bidder.
The decision to appoint him as the Test side captain comes as Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, and other star players will be busy playing SA20 during the NZ vs SA series. SA20 2024 will kick off on January 10, and the final match is scheduled to be played on February 10. On the other hand, the 1st Test of New Zealand vs South Africa series will commence on February 4. Due to the overlapping of the fixtures, the South African board has named a novice squad. There are only 7 capped players in the 14-man squad
The team does not appear strong on paper, and beating New Zealand on their soil is likely to be a tough task for them. The two matches are also crucial as they are part of the World Test Championship. However, Shukri Conrad, the South Africa Test coach, feels the rookie-heavy squad is going to challenge the Kiwis, citing their experience playing against India A and West Indies A. “The players selected for this tour have every chance of challenging New Zealand,” said Shukri Conrad.
South Africa Squad for New Zealand Test Series: Neil Brand (c), David Bedingham, Ruan de Swardt, Clyde Fortuin (wk), Zubayr Hamza, Tshepo Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Keegan Petersen, Dane Piedt, Raynard van Tonder, Shaun von Berg, Khaya Zondo.