The Squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi
Hashim Amla’s wealth of experience or Reeza Hendricks’ promising talent? This was probably the biggest question before the South African national selectors when they sat down yesterday to pick their country’s 15-member squad for the World Cup.
Barring Amla, none of the other selections caused any kind of intrigue whatsoever as they have been consistent performers over the past 12 months. Let’s take a look at how the Proteas squad shapes up for the mega event.
Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller
De Kock was in stellar form against Sri Lanka where he struck a hundred and three half-centuries to compile 353 runs from 5 innings. His spot at the top is certain with either one of Markram or Amla expected to partner him. Amla had gone through an on-off period in last 12 months but has still managed to maintain a batting average of close to 42 runs per inning in the said period. His experience will surely come in handy for South Africa especially in big stage crunch situations.
Skipper du Plessis and van der Dussen are the highest averaging Proteas batsmen in the last 12 months who will look to extend their golden run in their and their team’s betterment at the mega-event. David Miller will be donning the finisher’s role and his good form over past one year (419 runs at 46.55) falls perfectly in place for the South African bid for title glory.
JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius
Phehlukwayo has been the biggest all-round star for South Africa in the past one year with 28 wickets (second highest after Rabada’s 31) along with a batting average close to 32. He will be partnered by JP Duminy and Dwaine Pretorius for the sharing the all-rounder’s burden.
Duminy is recovering from a shoulder injury and is expected to get fit in time for the campaign. He will also serve as the team’s third spin option to support the leg spin efforts of Tahir and Shamsi. While Pretorius is unlikely to be in the starting XI, he offers a solid backup pace-bowling all-round option in case an injury concern arises in the team.
Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi
This department was already well-settled way before the World Cup squad announcement. Selectors also didn’t do any last-minute juggling and went with a traditional leg-spin option coupled with an unconventional left-arm leg-spin option.
Tahir will surely be the first-choice spinner for the playing XI unless du Plessis decides to field both of them at the expense of one of his faster bowlers which are quite unlikely.
Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, and Anrich Nortje
It will be in the pace bowling department where du Plessis will have to do the head-scratching to decide which one bowler to leave out from the starting XI. All four are really potent pace machines with the new sensation Nortje clocking speeds in excess of 150Kmph in last year’s Mzansi Super League.
He was also impressive in the series against Sri Lanka where he came in as a replacement for Steyn and picked up 8 wickets from 4 games. Rabada (31 wickets) and Ngidi (26 wickets) have been South Africa’s no. 1 and no.3 wicket-taking bowlers over the past one year while Steyn has recorded the best bowling average (18.37) along with the best economy (4.05 rpo) in the period. These three, in all likelihood, will make the cut for the starting XI.
Probable Starting XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis ©, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir and Lungi Ngidi.