Hashim Amla gets the nod in SA's World Cup-bound squad
The Hashim Amla versus Reeza Hendricks shootout reached its climax on Thursday after the former‚ a veteran in his own right‚ was preferred for South Africa’s Cricket World Cup squad over the latter.
Aiden Markram‚ who looked a long shot for selection until he blitzed his way to the top of the runs charts in the recently concluded One-Day Cup with the Titans‚ cracked the nod ahead of Hendricks for the opening backup spot.
Hendricks‚ 29‚ has always stayed in the reckoning with some impressive performances in both ODI and T20I cricket throughout the build-up but in the end lost out to Markram‚ who himself recently admitted he never pictured himself on a plane to London.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) convenor of selectors Linda Zondi‚ chief executive Thabang Moroe and President Chris Nenzani announced the squad at SuperSport studios in Randburg on Thursday.
“We tried by all means to look at different combinations and try to have experience and youth balance right‚” said selector Zondi.
“We believe that we have got our combinations right. We have selected two wrist spinners‚ two allrounders and the balance of our quick bowlers is right.”
Andile Phehlukwayo won the race for the much debated No.7 allrounder spot. Phehlukwayo’s place was never really in doubt given that he is the only player to be deployed in that role in South Africa’s ODIs this year.
Anrich Nortje‚ whose charge on the international stage came from nowhere‚ also cracked the nod. He went from being largely unknown in the past six months to nailing down a place in a World Cup squad.
Zondi also confirmed David Miller as the backup keeper for the tournament.
“We went with David Miller just make sure if anything happens to Quinton de Kock within the world cup Miller can just fit in‚" he said.
"We are very much excited and confident the team will represent the country well.”
South Africa’s campaign begins against co-hosts and the number one ODI ranked team England at the Oval in London on May 30.
Amla’s form of late does not inspire confidence but his selection was always going to be as close to automatic as it should be‚ given his intimidating record in the ODI format.
He has accumulated 7‚910 ODI runs‚ including 27 centuries in 171 innings.
The Proteas have struggled with their opening pair in ODI cricket of late.
While Quinton de Kock has been in devastating form at the top of the batting order‚ he has sorely missed a co-opener.
Faf du Plessis will captain the side in the 15-man squad that also includes De Kock‚ Markram‚ Rassie van der Dussen‚ JP Duminy and David Miller.
Dale Steyn‚ Lungi Ngidi‚ Kagiso Rabada and Noretje make up the pace attack while Tabraiz Shamsi will back up for first choice spinner Imran Tahir.
Coach Ottis Gibson’s side have had a decent run in the lead-up to the marquee event‚ defeating Pakistan and Sri Lanka in back-to-back series at home.
In their seven previous World Cup appearances‚ South Africa‚ ranked No.4 on the ODI rankings ahead of this year's showpiece‚ went to most the World Cup editions as one of the favourites but not this time.
Instead‚ the “favourites” tag is owned by the top team England‚ a rejuvenated Australia which has David Warner and Steven Smith back after serving bans respectively‚ and perennial contenders India.
South Africa squad:
Faf du Plessis‚ JP Duminy‚ David Miller‚ Dale Steyn‚ Andile Phehlukwayo‚ Imran Tahir‚ Kagiso Rabada‚ Dwaine Pretorius‚ Quinton de Kock‚ Anrich Nortje‚ Lungi Ngidi‚ Aiden Markram‚ Rassie van der Dussen‚ Hashim Amla‚ Tabraiz Shamsi