CAPE TOWN – The wait will finally be over at 1pm this afternoon. After months of speculation Linda Zondi will reveal the names of the 15 men tasked with bringing home the World Cup from England and Wales in just about six weeks’ time.
Fundamentally, “99.9%” of the Proteas squad has been finalised according to coach Ottis Gibson and captain Faf du Plessis. All the permutations have been discussed and players trialled.
Some who have been part of the “Vision 2019” process for the past two years such as Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder and Christiaan Jonker have seen their dreams of a golden ticket fade away. Others contenders like Rilee Rossouw, Kyle Abbott, Wayne Parnell, Colin Ingram and Duanne Olivier who could have been integral members of the squad have gone off and searched for greener pastures via the Kolpak route.
And let’s not forget the great man himself, AB de Villiers, who also walked away last year when he chose to play out his final days in T20 tournaments around the world instead of having one final tilt at winning the ultimate prize in the game.
So, where does that leave convenor of selectors Zondi and the remainder of the panel?
The only remaining issue is whether the selectors will risk including veteran batsman Hashim Amla in the final 15-man squad. Amla has virtually no current form to speak of, having been on family responsibility leave for a month prior to the T20 Challenge.
The 36-year-old, though, boasts one of the finest records in the history of the one-day international game and would add a great deal of experience and calmness to a team that could potentially field nine World Cup rookies.
Equally, the contenders for Amla’s place have not exactly set the international scene alight. Aiden Markram has been in glorious form for the Titans, but has yet to transfer that potential on the international stage in the ODI format.
In Markram’s favour, though, is the fact that he has shown the enviable quality known as “BMT” due to the fact that he has the knack of scoring runs in front of the television cameras in domestic showpiece finals.
Reeza Hendricks is the third player of the triumvirate pushing for the two batting spots. A century on debut in Sri Lanka last year seemed to set the Highveld Lions batsman on his way. Coupled with his electric form in the inaugural Mzansi Super League that propelled the Jozi Stars to the title and it seemed Hendricks had the inside lane.
However, he has yet to find the consistency that separates the good players from the “certain bets” and could just rue missing out on a couple of opportunities during the Sri Lankan ODI series.
Furthermore, it seems a closed shop with Tabraiz Shamsi set to fulfil the second spinner role in support of Imran Tahir, while Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius will be the two all-rounders who could leave IPL star Chris Morris in the cold.
The likely Proteas squad:
Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis (capt), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi.@ZaahierAdams