Quietly, without fanfare or fuss, Makhaya Ntini's international career was buried yesterday. By declining to include the iconic fast bowler in their squad for the crucial fourth Test against England and by pointedly not mentioning the fact, South Africa's selectors spoke volumes.
Ntini, 32, was dropped from the team for the third Test in Cape Town which his erstwhile colleagues could only draw after failing, for the second time in the series, to take England's final second-innings wicket. They no longer see Ntini as the answer to any of their questions of which there are plenty as they are 1-0 down to England with one match left.
Instead, they have included the extremely quick 20-year-old left-arm bowler, Wayne Parnell. This is itself a risk, for while Parnell's raw speed and talent are not in doubt his four first-class matches in the South Africa domestic season have yielded seven wickets at almost 50 runs each.
Parnell will presumably act as cover for Friedel de Wet, who will require a scan on his back after playing little part in the crucial final day of Cape Town. Opening batsman Alviro Petersen has been retained and has a good chance of taking over from the struggling Ashwell Prince. Imran Tahir, the Pakistan-born leg spinner who has taken 37 wickets for Easterns this winter after taking 52 for Hampshire last summer in England, has been included in the 15-man squad.
South Africa squad for Johannesburg
*Squad to face England in the fourth Test, starting 14 Jan: G C Smith (capt), H M Amla, M V Boucher, AB de Villiers, F de Wet, J P Duminy , P L Harris, J H Kallis, R McLaren, M Morkel, W D Parnell, A N Petersen, A G Prince, D W Steyn, I Tahir.