AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn have been named in the South African squad for the day-night four-day Test match against Zimbabwe which will be played from December 26 to 29. De Villiers played his last Test against England in January 2016 while Steyn has been recovering from a shoulder injury.
The wicketkeeper-batsman played his last Test in January 2016 against England at the Centurian where he had returned to the pavilion scoring ducks in both innings. Later, injuries kept him out of series against New Zealand and Australia and a self-imposed exile forced him to stay away from the longest format of the game for almost two years. But ahead of the first ever four-day day/night Test, between South Africa and Zimbabwe which is scheduled to begin on Boxing Day in Port Elizabeth, de Villiers had hinted at a comeback to Test cricket. He has now been named in the squad but it is subject to a fitness test, along with skipper Faf du Plessis.
"AB de Villiers is struggling with lower back stiffness and has been withdrawn from the three-day warm-up match as a precaution," Proteas team manager Dr. Mohammed Moosajee said on Tuesday (December 19) as quoted by Cricbuzz.
"He is, however, available for selection for the Test match against Zimbabwe."
Selection convenor Linda Zondi has hinted that de Villiers would essentially be the last batsman in the squad and his inclusion would depend on the combination of the playing XI which will be pick by the panel. However, the management hasn't taken a call over who would replace du Plessis as the captain of the side should he not be fit for the game.
"First we need to make sure that everyone is fit, and if they are then AB's selection is likely to come down to which format we think is best. We need to decide whether to go with six batters, a spinner
"It is a very exciting moment not just for South Africa but for world cricket to have Dale and AB, two icons of the game, back in the multi-day format. After Zimbabwe we have two very tough home Test Series coming up against India, the No. 1 ranked side in the world, and Australia, who have just regained the Ashes in their current series against England.”
Along with de Villiers, another star player who has been recalled to the side is pacer Dale Steyn. The 34-year-old, who played his last Test against Australia in November 2016, has also been selected in the 14-man squad for the first ever four-day Test match in South Africa. His inclusion means that the team might go with four fast bowlers as Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, and Kagiso Rabada are expected to be in the playing XI and if this does come to fruition, it will be the first time that the four pacers play in a Test together.
"AB and Dale bring loads of experience to the side apart from being two of the South African all-time greats. It is also good to have Vernon back and it is very encouraging that our four premium fast bowlers - Steyn, Philander, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel - are all back in the selection mix," Zondi added.
Squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Andile Phehlukwayo, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.