SA’s hopes rest with these men

THERE was no shock. There was no horror. There was only Andrew Hudson and a sheet of paper bearing the names of the 15 players who will try to do what no South African cricket side has done: win the World Cup.

There was also much pomp and circumstance and pyrotechnics in the crowded amphitheatre at Cape Town’s waterfront yesterday for the announcement of South Africa’s squad for the tournament.

One by one, as the players emerged onto the stage, blasts of smoke and roars of approval greeted them. Then they collected their blazers and took their places for what would eventually be the squad photograph.

It was a Bollywood beginning ahead of what South Africa will hope, come March, they can turn into a Hollywood ending.

“First and foremost, our captain, AB de Villiers,” selection convenor Hudson began.
That much we could work out for ourselves. Most of the rest, too, were the usual suspects who have been in the minds of many South Africans for months now.

The closest thing to a surprise was the inclusion of Farhaan Behardien, who was picked despite scraping together 117 runs in five innings – 63 of them one knock – in SA’s one-day series in Australia in November. Rilee Rossouw, he of the four ducks in his first six ODI innings, was also selected.

But they will be peripheral to the cause in Australia and New Zealand next month. De Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and David Miller are going to have to get the bulk of the runs, and they were all named.

Injury permitting, that is, in the case of De Kock and Duminy.
De Kock is battling torn ankle ligaments while Duminy is coming back from his latest bout with a lingering knee problem.

The good news was that De Kock took the last two steps out of the dungeon from which the players appeared on the stage yesterday in one large leap. Clearly, the treatment is working.

“We’re hoping he will be ready by the time the World Cup starts,” Hudson said.
“We’ll bring an extra resource into the ODIs against West Indies [which start in Durban next Friday], and make a decision prior to those games whether AB [de Villiers] keeps wicket or not.”

Duminy, meanwhile, is likely to make his comeback in the one- day series against West Indies rather than in the T20 matches that starts at Newlands tomorrow.

Kyle Abbott cracked the nod ahead of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the leading wicket-taker in the franchise one-day competition.

“People will try to knock you down,” Tsotsobe posted on social media some three hours before the announcement.
“You might feel worthless, useless, or stupid, but as long as you have yourself and remember who you are you will always be OK.” Hudson empathised: “When you’re left out having been part of the process, that’s a tough one.”

Like Behardien and Rossouw, Wayne Parnell and Aaron Phangiso will arrive at the tournament not as members of SA’s first choice XI but as part of plan B.

They could take that as a reason to stay out of the firing line. Or they could make a name for themselves – their choice.

SA squad:

AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn.

– Telford Vice

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