Making the cut: EWN Sport picks its Proteas World Cup squad
This is my first any only time that I will ever play selector. It’s a daunting job that Linda Zondi and his selection panel have to try and pick 15 players to represent South Africa at this year’s Cricket World Cup in the United Kingdom.
This is the first and only time that I will ever play selector. It is a daunting job that Linda Zondi and his selection panel have to try and pick 15 players to represent South Africa at this year’s Cricket World Cup in the United Kingdom.
So here is my attempt at trying to help Mr Zondi out and I hope this piece does reach the Cricket South Africa’s headquarters in Melrose.
Faf du Plessis: The captain’s inclusion in the 15-man squad is a given and this is not solely based on his leadership skills but also on his form with the willow in recent times. Du Plessis is an integral part of the Proteas batting line-up as he gives the top order incredible stability and when he performs the Proteas usually win their games.
Hashim Amla: The Mighty # hasn’t had the best couple of months, particularly off the field where he has had to deal with the ill-health of his father. This has prevented him from playing white ball cricket for both the Cobras and the Proteas in the Momentum One Day Cup and the recently concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka, which has caused so many doubts about his place in the World Cup squad. But for a man that averages a touch under 50 in ODI cricket with 27 centuries, one would be insane to leave out that much quality in their bid to win a major tournament.
Quinton de Kock: Quinny’s recent exploits with the bat against the Sri Lankans was beautiful to watch. Dominant and skillful and it makes you wish he could bottle up the form and unleash it at the global showpiece that is just under two months away. He is a sure banker at the top of the Proteas order and with the indications from the selectors that they are not going to provide a specialist back-up for him, his role in the side is even more important.
Kagiso Rabada: KG has assumed the role of leader of the Proteas attack with aplomb and even with the resurgence of Dale Steyn, the 23-year-old has consistently put in world-class performances. I have been concerned about the young quick's workload of late, but it is really difficult to argue that a man that is clocking 146km/h consistently is tired and needs to rest. He is going to be important for the Proteas and if you take into consideration the fact that he led the under-19’s to World Cup glory in 2014, then KG does have World Cup pedigree.
Dale Steyn: "Hoolio" as he is affectionately known by his teammates, is 34-years-old but bowling like 23-year-old KG Rabada. Steyn looks like he has gotten over his injury woes that stole almost three precious years from his career. A highly skillful bowler who is vastly experienced.
Imran Tahir: I can’t believe that Tahir is 40-years-old. A proven match-winner in white-ball cricket for whichever team he represents and in his final tournament for his beloved adopted country, I am expecting big performances from Immy.
JP Duminy: "Koppe" is back and from the little cameos he as produced for the Cobras and the Proteas after returning from a shoulder injury, it is promising signs from an important player. I have picked him ahead of Aiden Markram, who has done well for the Titans in the Momentum One Day Cup, but I feel he still hasn’t made a real impression for the ODI side.
Rassie van der Dussen: Rassie has paid his dues in domestic cricket for close to a decade and most of the time players like him come into the international environment and thrive almost immediately. Rassie has certainly done enough to earn a spot in the World Cup squad through his consistent performances and his adaptability makes him a real asset for the side.
Andile Phehlukwayo: One of the two genuine all-rounders in the squad that I have chosen. Phehlukwayo has experience that goes far beyond his years now in international cricket. He is a proven match-winner for the Proteas and, personally, I think he is one of the first names that Proteas coach Ottis Gibson should pencil in for his starting XI.
David Miller: Miller Time comes in doses but when it comes, it wins games almost single-handedly for the Proteas. As a finisher, Miller’s role is incredibly important, and he is the difference between the side posting 260 and 340. There will be an added responsibility of potentially donning the gloves should De Kock suffer any injury.
Reeza Hendricks: Hendricks scored a century on ODI debut last year in Sri Lanka and has showed glimpses of that brilliant performance without really taking the opening berth by the scruff of the neck. I do, though, believe that he has done enough to secure a spot on the plane to England.
Dwaine Pretorius: There was a brief period early on in Gibson’s tenure that the Lions all-rounder was seemingly out of favour, but since his return to the side on the tour of Australia late last year, Pretorius has shown his quality with both bat and ball. His unbeaten 76 in the final T20 against Sri Lanka while batting at three, underlined his potential with the bat and he should go to the World Cup.
Lungi Ngidi: Lungi’s greatest ability is getting wickets up front and that is an unquestionable asset to any side. I just hope that he is able to remain fit and firing throughout the World Cup.
Anrich Nortje: Nortje, just like Ngidi, is a genuine wicket-taker with the new ball and in the few times we have seen him on the international stage, he has done very well to warrant a place in the side and also like Ngidi will be hoping that he can remain fit enough to go to the UK.
Tabraiz Shamsi: There has been an evident willingness from the coaching staff to play two spinners in the starting XI. There is Duminy who is now more than a part-time spinner but Shamsi provides something different with his left-arm wrist spin and if the English summer is dry, he and Tahir together can be a real handful.