Zubayr Hamza, the 23-year-old Cape Cobras batsman, could make his Test debut against Pakistan on Boxing Day after being named in the 13-man South African squad for the upcoming three-match Test series. If he gains selection in the final XI he will become the 100th player to represent South Africa in Test cricket since readmission.
"Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa A tour to India where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under tough conditions," said CSA National Selection Panel convener Linda Zondi.
Hamza also enjoyed an outstanding season in the 2017-18 four-day franchise competition, scoring 828 runs at an average of 69 with three centuries.
"His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system," Zondi explained. "It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place."
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Cricket South Africa's squad for the series also features the return of seamer Duanne Olivier in place of Lungi Ngidi, who injured his knee during a T20I against Australia last month and has been ruled out until the end of February. Olivier was part of the squad for the home Tests against Australia in 2018 and has represented the South Africa in five Test matches.
"As unfortunate as Lungi's injury is we are blessed to have outstanding depth in our fast bowling resources," Zondi said. "Duanne has impressed on his previous appearances for the Proteas and has had a good franchise season to date with 20 wickets in his five matches at an average of 22.80.
While he has been ruled out of Tshwane Spartans' ongoing Mzansi Super League campaign with a back injury, batsman Theunis de Bruyn has also been included in the Test squad, and Tladi Bokako, the 25-year-old Cape Cobras and Durban Heat fast bowler, will join him as a non-playing member to gain experience.
"Tladi Bokako will work with the squad as a learning experience during the series in a continuation of the initiative we started with Kagiso Rabada and continued with Matthew Breetzke earlier in the season. He has had a good debut season for the Cape Cobras with 21 wickets at 26.33 to date. "We will continue to identify young players with the potential to become future Proteas," Zondi concluded.
South Africa play three Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is against Pakistan starting on December 26.
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma , Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (wk), Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn