JOHANNESBURG – Zubayr Hamza’s selection for the national Test squad is the continuation of a calculated rebuilding strategy for the Proteas.
South Africa’s future is not so much now, as some have claimed, because it’s been here for a while. Since the disappointing summer of 2015-16, 12 players have made their Test debuts.
Hamza’s call-up yesterday for the three-Test series against Pakistan that starts later this month is a continuation of a policy established by the national selectors three seasons ago, even though then there was no fancy marketing name for it. That rebuilding is essential as convenor of selectors Linda Zondi outlined yesterday.
“It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place,” Zondi said.
It’s been widely rumoured that skipper Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla might call it quits in the next 18 months.
So Zondi & Co have to act responsibly in how they go about managing this process of rebuilding the team. Fortunately there is some excellent young talent floating about in the domestic game, and Hamza has been one of the leading batsmen in that category in the last couple of seasons.
He stood out for the SA A team which toured India in the middle of the year and played two four-day matches against a strong India A side. In three innings, Hamza went passed 50 twice finishing that series with a top score of 93 and an average of 52.
That SA A selection was down to a superb 2017-18 season in the Four-Day Series in which Hamza scored over 800 runs for the Cape Cobras at an average of 69, with three hundreds and four fifties. He has not reached those heights this season however, his average in the Four-Day Franchise competition is 31.87 and he has gone passed 50 just twice in nine innings.
Whether Hamza makes a debut at Centurion on Boxing Day will come down to the fitness of Theunis de Bruyn, who damaged a disc in his lower back during the Mzansi Super League.
The other notable inclusion in the squad is Duanne Olivier, who replaces the injured Lungi Ngidi.
The SA squad is:
Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn@shockerhess