Johannesburg: Opening batsman Jacques Rudolph, who played the last of his 35 Tests in August 2006, has been recalled to the South Africa Test squad for the two-match series against Australia. Legspinner Imran Tahir and allrounder Vernon Philander also got their first call-ups to the Test squad.
Rudolph came in for opener Alviro Petersen, who missed out following a run of indifferent form at Test level. Also missing were seaming allrounders Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren who were both in the squad for South Africa's last Test, in January against India. Graeme Smith will lead the 14-member squad, and AB de Villiers, who missed the limited-overs leg of the series with a hand fracture sustained during the Champions League, will be his deputy if he clears a fitness examination ahead of the first Test from November 9.
Rudolph went into a self-imposed exile in 2007 when he signed a Kolpak contract with Yorkshire with the aim of developing himself into a more complete cricketer. His recall was widely expected following an impressive return to South African domestic cricket. He scored four centuries and made more than 900 first-class runs last season, before leading a successful South Africa A tour to Zimbabwe. This year, he came into the South African season after scoring centuries for Yorkshire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 and the County Championship. He has since been prolific in the SuperSport Series, where he leads the run-charts with 568 runs from six innings, including a match tally of 297 against Lions in his most recent outing.
"Jacques [Rudolph] will open the batting with Graeme Smith," selection convener Andrew Hudson said. "His experience and current form make him an asset to South Africa and at the age of 30 he has plenty of good years of cricket ahead of him. Jacques has underlined once again the importance of good domestic form and the fact that it is the gateway to national selection."
Petersen will get a chance to stake his claim for a recall when he leads the South Africa A side in a four-day tour game against the Australians from November 1. JP Duminy and Philander feature in both squads, while Parnell and McLaren were also included in the A team.
"The A side must be seen as a mix of players challenging for places in the South Africa squad as well as others we have identified as having the potential for the future and whom we now need to test at a higher level than franchise cricket," Hudson said. "We have to explore our options for the future."
South Africa squad: Graeme Smith (captain), AB de Villiers (vice-captain), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wk), JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Imran Tahir, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Ashwell Prince, Jacques Rudolph, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
South Africa A squad: Alviro Petersen (capt), Farhaan Behardien, Marchant de Lange, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Pumelela Matshikwe, Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Stiaan van Zyl.