Cape Town: South Africa have named six uncapped players in their 17-man squad for the first two tests of the four-match series against England as new coach Mark Boucher seeks to revive the fortunes of the ailing side.
Having lost stalwarts Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn to retirement, and with injuries ruling out fast bowler Lungi Ngidi and all-rounder Wiaan Mulder, Boucher faces a rebuilding job for a side who have lost their last five tests.
Batsmen Pieter Malan and Rassie van der Dussen, fast bowlers Dane Paterson and Beuran Hendricks, all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and wicketkeeper Rudi Second will all hope to make their debuts in the first test starting in Pretoria on December 26.
"The high number of uncapped players coming into the squad is a reflection of our policy of acknowledge players who do well at franchise level and have put their hands up for selection," Cricket South Africa independent selector Linda Zondi said in a statement on Monday.
"Van der Dussen, who is third on the current four-day batting averages, and Pretorius, who has established himself as the leading all-rounder, are clear examples of this.
"Following the same trend Paterson has been the second leading wicket-taker in four-day cricket this season and we want to go into the test series will a full arsenal of fast bowlers who have always provided one of our traditional strengths." Two notable absences from the squad that suffered three heavy losses in India in October are batsman Theunis de Bruyn and fast bowler Anrich Nortje.
The squad will be captained by Faf du Plessis, and contains experienced players in Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada.
South Africa suffered a surprise 2-0 loss to Sri Lanka in their previous home series in February, and were well beaten in India, losing two matches by an innings.
Former wicketkeeper Boucher, a veteran of 147 tests, will led the side for the first time in Pretoria, while it will also be the first series under CSA's new director of cricket, Graeme Smith, the most successful captain in test history.
Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Beuran Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Zubayr Hamza, Anrich Nortje, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Rudi Second, Rassie van der Dussen.