CAPE TOWN – National convenor of selectors Linda Zondi recently admitted that the Proteas World Cup squad, set to be announced in a fortnight, is giving him “sleepless nights”.
Well, Zondi is going to sleep even less after the latest developments.
On the positive side of things, Hashim Amla is back playing cricket after a spell of compassionate leave, and will turn out for the Cape Cobras in the T20 Challenge.
Cricket South Africa were apparently keen for Amla, according to Cobras coach Ashwell Prince, to have a stint in England playing county cricket, but the 36-year-old has instead opted to stay in the country.
Amla has been away from the game since March 1 due to the ill health of his father.
Although Dr Mahomed Amla’s condition has improved somewhat, it is understandable that Amla would not want to be based in the United Kingdom, should his father take a turn for the worse again.
“He is available,” Prince confirmed to the media on Thursday morning. “His personal situation has changed a little bit.
“My understanding is that CSA would have preferred for him to be playing in the UK, but he wanted to be closer to home. He wanted to play for us rather than (in) the UK.”
On the other side of the coin, there is renewed concern about JP Duminy’s right shoulder.
Duminy recently made his comeback to competitive cricket after undergoing a shoulder operation last year.
The Proteas all-rounder played in a few Momentum One-Day Cup games, and also the T20 International series against Sri Lanka.
Although Duminy looked in sublime touch with the bat, striking the ball sweetly whenever he was at the crease, he did not always appear comfortable in the field.
His bowling was certainly below par, often dragging the ball down short, and he even returned the ball to the wicket-keeper left-handed on occasion in a bid to protect his shoulder.
He will now miss the first segment of the T20 Challenge to continue his rehabilitation process.
“JP is not available because CSA feel that he’s shoulder is not where they would like it to be in terms of strength. There is going to be a block of three to four weeks of strengthening for him. He might join us at the back-end of the competition,” Prince said.
Zondi will certainly be monitoring both players’ progress with keen interest.
The concern around Amla will, of course, be whether a domestic T20 tournament is sufficient preparation for a high-octane tournament like the World Cup.
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“I don’t think extending an innings has ever been a problem for Hashim. It’s about getting in. In the Mzansi Super League, he didn’t manage that, which can happen after a long layoff,” Prince said.
“I still think there is a place for somebody to bat through the innings, and he is well capable of doing that. If he bats through the innings at a 120/130 strike rate, it allows other more natural ball-strikers to play their game around him.
“There is an opportunity for Hashim to bat through the innings, and if he does that half the time, then I think he is getting enough batting.”
The Cobras open their T20 Challenge campaign against the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers on Sunday.@ZaahierAdams