South Africa kept their faith in the experienced Hashim Amla, naming him in their 15-man squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. His inclusion was the only big question in a South African team that was otherwise more or less settled for the marquee event in England and Wales.
Amla has been an accomplished veteran for South Africa in one-day international cricket, with close to 8000 runs at an average of just under 50.
However, he has struggled for form lately, with the last year of his career plagued by inconsistency. But Amla’s experience and pedigree eventually won over the selectors.
Amla’s inclusion meant there was no room for the promising Reeza Hendricks. The 29-year-old had established himself as a potential replacement after making a cracking start to his one-day international career, with a century on debut. However, he then suffered a dip in form, and currently averages just over 26 after 18 ODIs.
With Amla in the mix, South Africa have three solid opening options in him, Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock. De Kock has been in splendid form, and had his most productive ODI bilateral series ever, against Sri Lanka – South Africa’s last ODI assignment – where he slammed one century and three fifties in five innings.
De Kock will likely lock down one of the opening slots, and it remains to be seen whom South Africa choose to partner him with at the top.
Captain Faf du Plessis will also have a lot of pace options to choose from, with all of Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lungi Ngidi, Dale Steyn, Anrich Nortje and Dwaine Pretorius having been included.
Nortje hit speeds upwards of 150kph in the Mzansi Super League last year and subsequently impressed in the Sri Lanka series, where he made his debut, filling in for Steyn.
He picked up an injury during the 2019 Indian Premier League, as did Ngidi, but both players are on the road to recovery. JP Duminy, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has also been picked.
The spin department will be headed by 40-year-old wrist-spinner Imran Tahir. South Africa can also fall back on Tabraiz Shamsi if they need a back-up or an ally to Tahir, while Duminy is an experienced part-timer with his off-spin.
Duminy will also be one of the lynchpins of the middle order, along with du Plessis. Rassie van der Dussen is reaping the benefits of a bright start to his international career and will hope to continue milking runs at the World Cup.
David Miller offers fire-power to the batting unit, and doubles up as a wicket-keeper should the need arise. Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo offer all-round options alongside Duminy.
South Africa kick off the 2019 World Cup against the tournament hosts England at The Oval in London on 30 May.
South Africa 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