NZ vs SA – Covid-19 puts Keegan Petersen out of South Africa Test tour of New Zealand



Zubayr Hamza has been called up as his replacement in the 17-member squad for the two-match series

Keegan Petersen has been ruled out of South Africa’s Test tour of New Zealand because of Covid-19, and has been replaced by Zubayr Hamza.

A CSA statement on Wednesday morning said that Petersen “is well and asymptomatic”, and that the board’s medical team “will keep in close contact with him to ensure his physical and mental well-being”.

South Africa Test captain Dean Elgar indicated that one of Sarel Erwee or Hamza would replace Petersen in the XI. That meant Ryan Rickelton, who has scored three centuries in his last five first-class innings, might not have made the grade yet.

“It’s unfortunate that KP is going to miss out on this trip. I would love to have seen him build on what he started in the India series,” Elgar said in a press interaction. “Sarel Erwee has been the back-up for quite some time. He has had a few series where he has been carrying drinks and has been brilliant for us off the field. I’ve like to think he is the one guy that comes in.

“In saying that, Zubayr is another option for us. We’ll have to see what the best option is for us. It’s another opportunity for someone to come in and make a play for the team and try and give the selectors a little headache. It’s pretty clear cut that Sarel and Hamza are the two guys pushing for that No. 3 spot.”

Petersen, 28, was the batting star of South Africa’s recent 2-1 home Test series win over India, topping the run charts with 276 runs from six innings at an average of 46.00. Though he failed to get to three figures in any of the innings – the 82 in the final Test is his career best so far – Petersen has slotted in as South Africa’s preferred one-drop in the longest format in recent times, and currently has an average of 35.55 from five Tests.

Hamza hasn’t turned out for South Africa since his only ODI appearance, back in November 2021 against Netherlands in Centurion, when he scored 56 from 79 balls from No. 3. Hamza, 26, has also played five Tests, scoring 181 runs at an average of 18.10.

The 17-member squad for the two-Test series includes Simon Harmer. The offspinner last played for South Africa in 2015 and signed a Kolpak deal with Essex in 2017, and has now been picked as back-up spinner to Keshav Maharaj in place of George Linde, who was unavailable because of his upcoming wedding. Prenelan Subrayen, the other spinner who has recently been around the squad, was not considered because of a groin injury.
Lutho Sipamla, the seamer, has also been recalled, and he completes a seven-man strong fast-bowling line-up that has Kagiso Rabada, who was rested for the ODIs against India, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen, Glenton Stuurman, Duanne Olivier and allrounder Wiaan Mulder. Sisanda Magala, who was in the Test squad for the India series, has been left out.
Anrich Nortje, who missed the India Tests with a hip injury, continues to be out of action.

As for the travelling management team, South Africa A team coach Malibongwe Maketa and physiotherapist Brent Martin will join the squad, replacing Rivash Gobind and Craig Govender, who have been granted leave.

Updated squad: Dean Elgar (capt), Temba Bavuma, Sarel Erwee, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Harmer, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Lutho Sipamla, Glenton Stuurman, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne (wk).

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent


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