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THE world’s number one Test cricket team, powered by a lethal combination of the world’s best Test bowler and the world’s number one-ranked Test batsman, have named an All-Star cast that is coming to town next week for a landmark one-off Test showdown at Harare Sports Club. It’s the heavyweight versus the lightweight and the Proteas, fresh from roaring back to the top of the world Test rankings after their first Test series win in Sri Lanka in 21 years, are not taking their foot off the pedal and have named a very powerful team for the visit to Zimbabwe.

The South African selectors have kept faith with the men who completed a 1-0 win over Sri Lanka 1-0 this week, which was due reward for their explosive bowling unit, phenomenal batting line-up and a never-say-die attitude by their tail to defend for their lives in the final moments of the drawn second Test.

New skipper Hashim Amla, in his first assignment since replacing Graeme Smith as Test captain, received widespread praise for the way he led his men to tame a Sri Lanka team, in their fortress, which had come into this contest buoyed by an away victory in England.

“The Proteas have earned a vote of confidence,” Cricket South Africa convener of selectors, Andrew Hudson, said in comments published on the CSA official website yesterday as he announced an unchanged Test side for the tour of Zimbabwe.

“We will be naming the ODI squad for the three-match series against Zimbabwe next week and will give consideration to resting a couple of players.

“We will, however, be sending our full-strength ODI squad for the following triangular series against Zimbabwe and Australia.”

The Proteas have the number one ranked Test batsman, AB de Villiers, while skipper Amla is ranked number five in the world with our best batsman Brendan Taylor ranked 27th and Hamilton Masakadza 62nd in the world.

The South Africans are also powered by arguably the most potent attack in Test cricket in the world, although the Australians will argue long and hard to counter that assessment, with their pace spearhead, Dale Steyn, ranked the best Test bowler on the globe.

Vernon Philander is ranked number four in the world and Morne Morkel is on 16th place while our best active bowlers, in Test cricket, are Tendai Chatara at number 49 in the world and Tinashe Panyangara at number 51.

It’s South Africa’s first tour here for a Test tie since 2001 when the Proteas won 1-0, winning the first Test at Harare Sports Club by nine wickets, after the Zimbabweans were forced to follow on, with the second Test on a flat and lifeless Queens track ended in a draw.

Two years earlier the South Africans had won 2-0 and in the ’95’96 season had also won 1-0.

With the Australians also coming here, for an ODI triangular that will involve the Proteas, for their first visit here in exactly 10 years, new ZC chairman Wilson Manase, believes this is a very important period for the country’s cricket.

“It’s a very crucial period for us and it’s an honour that we will be hosting the world’s top ranked Test team, South Africa, and the world’s top-ranked ODI team, Australia, at the very same time,” said Manase.

“It’s a confidence-booster for our game, we will be under the spotlight and we believe it is also important that we compete very well against the two teams that we will host.”

The tour by the Proteas will give Manase his first official assignment, as head of ZC, while Steve Mangongo will get his aenture as national coach underway, in the toughest manner possible, against the team rated as the best in the world, today, by the ICC.

Zimbabwe have drawn their last two Test series at home against Bangladesh (1-1) and Pakistan (1-1) but the Proteas will provide different and classy opposition, especially now that they have chosen to bring all their big guns.

CSA on Monday hailed the Proteas for regaining the number one ranking in Test cricket in the world.

“The performances of our players in Sri Lanka over the last month has left us breathless at times and have also produced moments of awe, pride and great excitement,” CSA chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said on his organisation’s website.

“This is the first South African squad to triumph in both the ODI and Test Series in Sri Lanka and the last time we achieved this on the sub-continent was in Pakistan back in 2007.

“It took great courage and tenacity to support the talents of our world-class players to achieve these series wins.

“They have now set the bar high for the 201415 season which reaches a climax with the ICC World Cup in Australasia in February and March.”

Lorgat also had special praise for Amla and coach Russel Domingo.

“It is hard to find the right words to congratulate our new leadership team of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Russell Domingo,” he said.

“Hashim has made a wonderful start to his reign as captain of the Test squad from every possible point of view whether you look at his personal contributions with the bat or his calm presence that he brings to the team or his inspiring leadership and tactical acumen that was evident in his declarations in the first Test match.

“There will always be stand-out individuals in any match but this was truly a team effort in getting us across the line in a tense finish and, on behalf of CSA and our loyal fans, I extend warm congratulations to all the players and team management.”

South Africa Test squad:

Hashim Amla (captain) AB de Villiers Kyle Abbott Quinton de Kock JP Duminy Faf du Plessis Dean Elgar Imran Tahir Morne Morkel Wayne Parnell Alviro Petersen Vernon Philander Dane Piedt Dale Steyn Stiaan van Zyl

Source : The Herald