It is fitting that AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn make their long-awaited returns to the Proteas squad for St George’s Park next week, having made their debut together in Port Elizabeth 13 years ago.
The Proteas face Zimbabwe in a historic day-night, four-day, pink ball test match at the country’s oldest test venue starting on Tuesday.
The squad, with De Villiers and Steyn included, arrive in Port Elizabeth on Friday and are scheduled to train under St George’s Park’s new lights that evening.
De Villiers’s last test match was almost two years ago, against England in Centurion, during January last year.
He missed three series because of an elbow injury and then took a break from the five-day format, ceding the captaincy to Faf du Plessis.
Steyn has been recovering from a serious shoulder injury suffered against Australia in Perth just over a year ago.
The fast bowler’s only competitive cricket since then has been in five T20 matches for the Titans in the past month
The South African superstars both played their first test match for South Africa against England at St George’s Park back in 2004.
Another star, Vernon Philander, is also back in the squad after missing the most recent series against Bangladesh.
It means South Africa are back to full strength for the first time in almost two years for a test match, which serves as a warm-up for three home tests against India next month and a series against Australia straight after that.
“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,” CSA national selection panel convener Linda Zondi said yesterday.
“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.
“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.”