The best team will go to the cricket World Cup regardless of colour, says CSA

In 2015, Vernon Philander’s last-minute selection into the national team while he was injured was used to blame the World Cup loss.

The Proteas' Hashim Amla. Picture: @OfficialCSA/Twitter

The Proteas will not suffer a repeat of the selection debacle that derailed their World Cup dream in 2015, says Cricket South Africa’s convenor of selectors Linda Zondi.

Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated announcement of the 15-man squad to compete for the World Cup in England, starting on May 30, Zondi was adamant the best team 11 will be chosen at any given time in the competition.

“There will be no quotas. There will be no selection issues at the World Cup as far as I’m concerned. I will be there in England, and I will have the final say. We will not have a repeat of what happened in 2015,” Zondi said in an interview with EWN Sport on Tuesday.

During the 2015 Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the Proteas camp appeared unsettled when Vernon Philander, who was injured for the quarterfinal against Sri Lanka, was included for the semifinal ahead of the in-form Kyle Abbott at the 11th hour.

Abbott had taken 9 wickets at an average of 14.4 in four matches and had the best economy rate of any Proteas bowler. The move sparked speculation that Philander’s last-minute selection was as a result of racial quotas being implemented. CSA, at the time, denied this.

“I think the quotas angle has been blown out of proportion. Just look at the team. In our last limited overs match (T20 international against Sri Lanka on March 24 2019) we had seven players of colour and we won. Out of the seven players of colour, there were four black African players, yet no one has pointed that out.”

CSA’s official transformation policy requires the national team to average 55% players of colour in all formats throughout a season. “The Cricket World Cup is not an isolated event, so there is no reason for us to dictate how players are selected in the tournament. Our policy judges us over an entire season, so there will be no issues as far as I’m concerned,” Zondi explained.

“Can you say Kagiso Rabada is a quota player? We are confident in the players that we have, and those we are taking to the World Cup. They are world class, so there will be no dropping of standards. We will pick the best team.”

“Lungi Ngidi is another star player who is there on merit, and we feel that the players we have are representative of South Africa, as a non-racial country.”

With the Cricket World Cup just weeks away, Zondi is poised this Thursday to announce the 15-man squad to make the trip to England.

At least one crucial decision will have to be made around the inclusion or exclusion of Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram.

Amla has been short of game time and runs, while Markram has experienced something of a run-glut in domestic cricket since being sidelined from the Proteas one-day international team against Pakistan early this year. Markram was also instrumental in the Titans winning the Momentum One Day Cup last month.

“I’m pleased with the decisions we have made and I believe we have chosen a team that can bring back the World Cup,” said Zondi.