Piedt called-in to boost SA's spin stocks
Offspinner Dane Piedt has been called up to South Africa's Test squad as an additional spin option. Piedt is awaiting approval of his visa and is expected to join the group this weekend, with a view to be considered for the third Test in Hamilton starting March 25.
Piedt has been preferred to Tabraiz Shamsi, who was taken on South Africa's Test tour to Australia and played in the day-night Test in Adelaide, and Imran Tahir, who has not played a Test since 2015.
Piedt's last Test was also against New Zealand in August 2016, after which he was dropped for Keshav Maharaj, the lone specialist spinner in the squad currently. Maharaj was preferred for his ability to control the run-rate and took his maiden five-for in Dunedin, but is expected to need assistance on slower, turning surfaces.
Piedt's inclusion will take the number in South Africa's touring party to 17, after they included six pace options in anticipation of seamer-friendly conditions. Faf du Plessis admitted they have been surprised to find that is not the case, but have quickly adjusted to assuming New Zealand will look to play two specialist spinners as much as possible. As a result, South Africa are considering doing the same at Seddon Park in Hamilton, the venue that offered considerable turn during the ODIs.
For Piedt, the chance to play again comes at the end of a challenging season, during which he considered seeking out a Kolpak deal in the midst of drama at his domestic franchise, the Cobras. The franchise changed coaches mid-season following a long-running battle between the players and Paul Adams, who had been in charge for five seasons.
Adams was offered contract renewal despite facing a mutiny after a majority of contracted players launched a formal grievance against him. The players took their case to the country's highest dispute resolution body, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and won the right to strike but never followed through on the threats. Instead, several senior players were sent on loan to other teams. Piedt was among them, and went to the Titans for the domestic twenty-over campaign, but only played two matches.
However, when Ashwell Prince was appointed coach after Adams stood down at the end of 2016, Piedt was asked to captain the side, a role he accepted. He shelved his ambitions to seek opportunities elsewhere and committed himself to turning the franchise's fortunes around.
Remarkably, they rose from the bottom of the first-class points' table to be in contention for the title on the final weekend. Although they did not lift the trophy, they had redeemed themselves. Piedt took 28 wickets in the campaign to finish eighth overall and of those, 17 came in the second half of the season.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent