Vol. 5 Num 156 Thu. October 28, 2004  

First Asian on SA team
Boucher dropped from Indian tour party

South Africa have included their first player of Asian origin in their squad for a two-Test series in India next month.

Batsman Hashim Amla is one of four new caps in the 14-man squad along with all-rounder Zander de Bruyn, pace bowler Alfonso Thomas and wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile.

"It's really exciting to be part of the South African squad," said Amla. "I'm glad to be a South African, representing South Africa, and I'll walk on to the field as a South African."

Opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs, who is still under investigation by Indian police over his involvement in the 2000 match-fixing scandal, declared himself unavailable for selection.

Left-arm spinner Nicky Boje, another player wanted for questioning, was named as the new vice-captain in place of dropped wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

Indian authorities have not given any assurances that the pair will not be arrested as part of the continuing investigations into match-fixing. The late South Africa captain Hanse Cronje was banned for life after admitting to taking money from bookmakers.

Selection convenor Omar Henry said on Wednesday if left-arm spinner Boje decided not to tour he would be replaced by swing bowler Charl Langeveldt.

"Boeta Dippenaar will take over the vice-captaincy," Henry said.

Boje, however, is said to be "very keen" to tour.

Jacques Rudolph, who is suffering from a back injury, will undergo fitness test before leaving.

Andrew Hall returns to the squad for the first time since the fourth Test against West Indies in January while Justin Ontong makes his first appearance since the tour of Australia in 2001-02.

Also missing from the squad that toured Sri Lanka are Nantie Hayward, Andre Nel, Lance Klusener and Andrew Puttick.

The squad will gather for a week-long training camp on November 4 before flying to India. Their tour begins with a three-day warm-up match on November 14.

Graeme Smith (captain), Nicky Boje (vice-captain), Hashim Amla, Zander de Bruyn, Boeta Dippenaar, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Makhaya Ntini, Justin Ontong, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Rudolph, Thami Tsolekile, Alfonso Thomas, Martin van Jaarsveld.