South Africa’s squad for the Cricket World Cup has been the topic of hot discussion for the past 6 months, ever since they began their limited overs tour to Australia late last year.
It has been said by both captain, Faf du Plessis and coach, Ottis Gibson, that the Proteas are about 90% settled on their final 15 players they want to take to England for the World Cup. There are just a few questions that still need answering.
First, and most importantly for me, is that of Hashim Amla. Unfortunately due to his father’s critical health condition, he had to pull out of the final 3 ODIs against Sri Lanka and hasn’t played any cricket for a month.
There has been a lot of talk about his place in the World Cup, with some saying he’s past it and shouldn’t go, I have always been an Amla fan and I think you cannot just ignore his wealth of experience, especially in England, where he has done well in the past. Add to that, the unbeaten century he scored in the 1st ODI against Pakistan.
My worry comes with his father’s health issues. Is he in the right frame of mind to play in a World Cup? Is this perhaps the reason he hasn’t been the rock of the Proteas batting that we’ve come to expect from him? How long has this been playing on his mind?
If Amla makes himself available to go, I say you absolutely have to take him. He’s in my team.
The other question that has been thrown around is that of the toss up between Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks. That is a tough one, neither one of those players has any sort of reputation to look back on, so you can only look at current form.
Now, Markarm had been doing great work and been in sublime form in the Momentum One Day Cup, scoring centuries for fun, and it was this that allowed him to be re-selected for the final 3 ODIs against Sri Lanka. Markram has an abundance of talent, we can see this, we know this, he just needs to concentrate more while in the middle, so that when he gets to 20 or 30, he pushes on. In his 2 innings against Sri Lanka, he scored 29 and 67 not out, not a bad return.
Reeza Hendricks, on the other hand, scored 1, 29, 4 & 8 while opening the batting with Quinton de Kock, and whilst he was in great form in the T20s, is that enough to warrant his selection for the World Cup? Reeza doesn’t move his feet, and in England, where having a good technique is absolutely vital for an opener, can South Africa risk playing him?
Bottom line, Reeza averages 26 in ODI cricket, and Markram averages 30. If it were up to me, I’d pick Markram over Reeza for the World Cup.
The all-rounder spot is the final question that hangs over the selector’s heads. Andile Phehlukwayo has been touted as THE all-rounder for the Proteas, and I fully support that, but will they want to play another in Dwaine Pretorius? I will be honest, I am not a fan of filling the team up with bits and pieces players to try and bolster the batting. The best way to bolster the batting is by playing a batsman.
The return of JP Duminy to the international side could not have come at a better time. He provides such stability to the middle order, he adds a 6th bowling option, he’s brilliant in the field. He is your 2nd all-rounder.
The World Cup squad will be announced on Thursday April 18th. We will have to wait and see who they select. I just hope there is no Chris Morris.