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Update Hendricks, Petersen out of South Africa's Test squad

[Image: beuran-hendricks-made-his-test.jpg]

Beuran Hendricks and Keegan Petersen have been withdrawn from South Africa's squad to play two Tests against Sri Lanka, starting at Centurion on Saturday. CSA didn't explain their absence when it updated the squad on Tuesday, but it also hasn't identified the two players who tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

Importantly, the positive tests were announced before the squads went into a bio-secure environment on Saturday. Three rounds of testing have been conducted from Thursday to Tuesday, and no other cases of the disease have been announced. That means the bubble can be regarded as secure, at least from a South African perspective. Efforts to ascertain Sri Lanka's Covid situation have been unsuccessful.

Uncapped batter Petersen was a long shot for a place in the XI, but Hendricks would probably have earned his second cap. He bounced back from taking 1/111 in the first innings of his debut, against England at the Wanderers in January, to claim 5/64 the second time around.

His haul included the wickets of Joe Root and Ben Stokes, and he dismissed Dominic Sibley in both innings. That, the fact that Hendricks's debut was South Africa's most recent Test, and his left-armness in an otherwise right-arm seam attack should have seen him keep his place.

Quinton de Kock hinted on Monday that the uncapped Glenton Stuurman could crack the nod on Saturday, and thus replace Hendricks. Allrounder Dwaine Pretorius, who earned the last of his three caps in the same match in which Hendricks made his debut but has built a reputation as a white-ball specialist, is also an option. Regardless, South Africa's fast bowling, a perennial strength, will be weakened by the unavailability of Kagiso Rabada because of a groin injury.

The focus on South Africa's Covid tests is understandable considering England abandoned their white-ball tour on December 10 with three of their six matches unplayed after a rash of positive tests within the bubble. Last week, two of the three matches in South Africa's senior first-class competition were affected by the pandemic. One game was called off after the first day, and in all 10 players in the Test squad were exposed to the virus. This week's round of matches was postponed. Shortly before Thursday's cases of the virus were revealed, Raynard van Tonder, Lutho Sipamla and Pretorius were added to the squad.

South Africa Test squad:Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Glenton Stuurman, Sarel Erwee, Wiaan Mulder, Kyle Verreynne, Migael Pretorius, Dwaine Pretorius, Lutho Sipamla, Raynard van Tonder


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