Cape Town – Proteas coach Russell Domingo has welcomed the return of senior bowlers Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander to the Test squad.
Morkel, 32, has been unavailable for the Proteas since suffering from a back injury during the Caribbean Premier League in July 2016.
He returns to the Proteas Test squad after being deemed unfit to play in their historic 2-1 series victory in Australia last year as well as their whitewash triumph over Sri Lanka in January.
It was earlier reported that Morkel was told by a medical professional that he might never play cricket again.
However, the fast bowler bounced back and played two decent One Day Cup games for the Titans this month.
Domingo says he is eager to see Morkel back, as his experience would be vital to the inexperienced players in the Proteas camp.
“We’re keen to have him back, Morne is a world class bowler and his rehab programme in the last three months have been very intense,” Domingo told reporters in Wellington over the weekend.
“He’s played a couple of one-day games for the Titans back home and it’s gone nicely, so we’re looking forward to getting him back in our group.
“To have a bowler with his experience and his class is massive for our younger players.
“So we want him back into the mix – he is a quality bowler.”
Meanwhile, Philander’s return is also an added boost, as his performance in New Zealand could potentially see him called up for the Champions Trophy, which begins in June.
“Vernon is fully fit, but obviously needs to be managed – like a lot of our bowlers,” said Domingo.
“Good to have that type of calibre back in the mix.”
The players who are currently not involved in the ODI series landed in New Zealand on Sunday and are participating in a week-long camp with Proteas batting coach Neil McKenzie and fitness trainer Greg King.
The first Test gets underway in Dunedin on Wednesday, March 8.
Proteas Test squad:
Faf du Plessis (captain, Titans) Stephen Cook (Highveld Lions) Dean Elgar (Titans) Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras) JP Duminy (Cape Cobras) Temba Bavuma (Highveld Lions) Quinton de Kock (Titans) Vernon Philander (Cape Cobras) Keshav Maharaj (Dolphins) Wayne Parnell (Cape Cobras) Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions) Duanne Olivier (Knights) Theunis de Bruyn (Knights) Heinrich Klaasen (Titans) Morne Morkel (Titans) Chris Morris (Titans)