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McLaren, Parnell the contenders to replace Kallis

January 29, 2014

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Allrounders Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell were named Wednesday as South Africa’s contenders to fill the huge void left by the retirement of Jacques Kallis.

McLaren and Parnell, who made their debuts in the same match against England in 2010, were called into South Africa’s test squad for the three-match home series against Australia. They replaced 18-year veteran of the team Kallis, who played his final test last month, and spinner Imran Tahir, who was dropped.

The remainder of top-ranked South Africa’s squad was unchanged from the recent series win over No. 2 India, with wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers picked despite surgery to remove a plate in his left hand just over two weeks ago.

Fast bowler Dale Steyn was in despite a slight cloud over his fitness. Steyn fractured a rib in the second test against India in late December. The Proteas say they expected both players to be fit for the mouthwatering series against high-flying Australia.

The bulk of Australia’s squad was expected to arrive in South Africa on Wednesday following their 5-0 drubbing of England in the Ashes. The first test at Centurion starts Feb. 12, with the teams also meeting in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

South Africa hasn’t lost a test series in five years but its last defeat was at home to Australia and this Australian visit is expected to be a stern challenge to South Africa’s long unbeaten run.

“A lot of teams in test cricket are having success in their own backyard, but the greatest challenge is to be able to win away from home,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said as his team left home for South Africa. “That’s what we face right now.”

Recognizing the threat of the Australian bowling attack that destroyed England, Cricket South Africa said left-arm fast bowler Beuran Hendricks and offspinner Simon Harmer would train with the squad to help it prepare for Australia’s lethal left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson and offspinner Nathan Lyon.

The balance of the Proteas’ first team of the post-Kallis era is also one of the major talking points for the home side, with Kallis accepted as one of the greatest allrounders to play the game and South Africa’s best ever player. He scored over 13,000 test runs and also took nearly 300 wickets, and his huge value as a batsman and bowler will be exceptionally difficult to replace.

Captain Graeme Smith said Kallis was irreplaceable after the 38-year-old retired following a century in his final test against India in Durban — his 45th test hundred.

By calling up McLaren and Parnell, South Africa indicated it will likely bring another allrounder in for Kallis and the team’s batsmen would then all move up the order. Neither McLaren nor Parnell has the world-class batting ability of Kallis, who came in at the pivotal No. 3 and No. 4 positions during his career.

“We want to stay constant to the brand of cricket we have played over the last few years that has brought us such success,” South Africa’s head selector Andrew Hudson said.

The 30-year-old McLaren has played just a single test, back in January 2010, but has been one of the Proteas’ form players in one-day cricket recently. Parnell is 24 and viewed as a long-term prospect, but the last of his three tests also came four years ago.

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Squad:

Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Thami Tsolekile.

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