19 March 2019

South Africa: Proteas Selectors Must Choose Between Reputation and Form

Cape Town — The Proteas squad for the 2019 World Cup is largely settled.

The captain and coach will always leave the door slightly open for other players, but reading between the lines it is clear that almost all 15 names have been decided on.

There is one exception, though, and Hashim Amla's participation at the World Cup remains uncertain.

His ODI record is superb - he averages almost 50 at a strike rate of almost 90 - but Amla has been sidelined over the past few weeks because of personal circumstances.

With his father critically ill, the 35-year-old has put his World Cup charge on ice, and understandably so.

The problem is that Amla been struggling to find consistently good form for several months now. The five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka would have been the perfect opportunity to assess what kind of touch he was in, but he did not feature at all.

Absent from the squad for the upcoming three T20s against Sri Lanka too, Amla will not wear a Proteas strip again before the World Cup.

It leaves coach Ottis Gibson , skipper Faf du Plessis and the Proteas selectors with much to consider.

While Reeza Hendricks appeared to be next in line to the opening slot in Amla's absence, Aiden Markram seems to have now muscled his way in following a superb run of form in the Momentum One Day Cup and then a 67* at the top of the order in the 5th ODI against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

If Amla is left out of the World Cup squad, it is a decision that will almost certainly ruffle feathers in the South African cricket community.

"You'd want to pick on form, but if there is no form to go with then you have to look at reputation I guess," Gibson told media in Cape Town on Monday ahead of Tuesday's first T20I at Newlands.

"That's something that we will have to look at, obviously with regards to Hash, because he has not played any cricket for a long time now because of his family situation.

"When we sit down to discuss the team that will be one of the things we have to consider."

Amla could potentially play the remainder of the One Day Cup with the Cape Cobras - they have two pool fixtures remaining - while there is also the domestic T20 competition before the World Cup.

It may not be international cricket, but runs domestically will at least give the selectors some reassurance that Amla is batting at the level he needs to.

The squad for the first T20I is the same as the ODI squad that finished the series against Sri Lanka, but it will change significantly for the second and third T20Is at Centurion and the Wanderers.

One name that stands out in that second squad is Chris Morris .

With Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo the front-runners to be selected as the specialist World Cup allrounders, Morris looks to be completely out of the running.

But, speaking on Monday, Gibson suggested that there was always a chance for somebody to use the T20 series against Sri Lanka to make one last play at the World Cup.

"I'm not too sure about the IPL but playing international T20s you will always have an opportunity," he said.

"We have always looked at it like a Ryder Cup selection where the Ryder Cup captain has a wildcard pick.

"There is still an opportunity and if somebody comes and does something unbelievable within the next couple of games, then there is still an opportunity for the selectors to consider that person."

Tuesday's first T20I starts at 18:00 .

Source: Sport24

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