The national selectors have named a squad of 13 players for the first two matches. The second match will be played at PPC Newlands from January 2.
De Villiers did keep wicket during last season’s home series against the West Indies when Quinton de Kock was injured but, before that, had not kept wicket in a Test match since the 2013-14 home series against Australia.
Both De Kock and Dane Vilas, who kept wicket in one Test match in Bangladesh this year and then throughout the recent Freedom Series in India, will turn out for South Africa A in their fixture against England next weekend. Vilas will captain the side and keep wicket while De Kock will bat at No. 4.
De Villiers’ return to an all-rounder role will enable Temba Bavuma to return to his normal batting position in the middle-order while Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl will resume their opening batting partnership at the top of the order.
Uncapped Rilee Rossouw has been included in the Castle Lager Test squad as the extra batsman while Dane Piedt is the only spinner selected with both Simon Harmer and Imran Tahir dropping out from the squad that went to India.
With Vernon Philander on the injury list Kyle Abbott retains his place in the four-man fast bowling attack along with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.
“One of the issues that concerned us during the tour to India,” commented CSA selection convener, Linda Zondi, “was the lack of depth to our batting, particularly in the lower order and the change in AB’s role means that we can now have a specialist batsman at No. 7.
“We now feel that the side has a much better balance about it without in any way reducing the tactical options available to our captain, Hashim Amla.
“The return to South African conditions made it inevitable that we would only choose one specialist spinner with JP Duminy and Elgar both available as back-up and Dane (Piedt) is the man in possession.
“Our batting line-up has served us well in the past in matches under our own conditions and I am confident they will be ready for the challenge in what is going to be a very tough series in which experience will play a vital role.”
Castle Lager Proteas Test squad: Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras, capt), AB de Villiers (The Unlimited Titans, vice-capt), Kyle Abbott (Sunfoil Dolphins), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Faf du Plessis (the Unlimited Titans), Dean Elgar (The Unlimited Titans), Morne Morkel (The Unlimited Titans), Dane Piedt (Cape Cobras), Kagiso Rabada (bizhub Highveld Lions), Rilee Rossouw (VKB Knights), Dale Steyn (Cape Cobras), Stiaan van Zyl (Cape Cobras).