Proteas: World Cup squad up for debate
Just who will make the final selection for the Proteas 15-man ICC Cricket World Cup squad will be revealed by Cricket SA on Wednesday in Cape Town.
The 50-over tournament, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, begins on February 14 2015.
Based on South Africa’s performances in one-day international (ODI) cricket over the past year, as well as those named in the 30-man preliminary squad in December, 11 players must be considered certainties.
AB de Villiers as captain, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir.
It still leaves four places up for grabs, and one of the front-runners for a berth is Dolphins wicketkeeper and opening batsman Morne van Wyk.
The 35-year-old should be brought in as cover for the first-choice keeper and opener, De Kock, who picked up an ankle injury in December which could take up to two months to heal.
De Kock is likely to miss South Africa’s opening game against Zimbabwe on February 15, and could still be in doubt for the Proteas second game against India a week later.
After De Kock’s rolled his ankle midway through the first Test against the West Indies in Pretoria last month, De Villiers took the gloves for the remainder of the Test series.
Proteas coach Russell Domingo, however, stated he did not want De Villiers keeping wicket in one day cricket, as he already has enough on his plate with the captaincy.
However, the idea of three wicketkeepers in the squad may not appeal to management and the selectors.
If Van Wyk is not picked, Domingo could employ a batsman in the temporary opening spot alongside regular opener Hashim Amla and either Reeza Hendricks or Rilee Rossouw could fill the vacancy.
Hendricks, who opens for the Knights, is in great form having scored 157 at the top of the order in a four-day game against the Cobras last week.
He has played three T20Is for South Africa, but is yet to make his ODI debut.
Rossouw, meanwhile, has already played nine ODIs for the Proteas, batting at number four five times, number three twice, seven on one occasion and opening once.
While the captain and coach were yet to work out where Rossouw is best suited in the order, he has managed just 145 runs in those knocks, at an average of 16.11.
In the bowling department, Kyle Abbott and Lonwabo Tsotsobe will be at the top of the radar. Abbott played seven matches for the Proteas in 2014 and, although he averaged 51 runs per wicket, his economy rate was reasonable at 4.27 per over.
Tsotsobe, meanwhile, has been a standout performer in domestic one-day so far this season. Playing for the Lions, the 30-year-old is the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 12 scalps at an average of 18.08.
However, he has not turned out for his country in an ODI since December 2013, and last played for the Proteas in a T20I in March.
An ankle injury side-lined the left-arm bowler for much of 2014, but he now appears to be back to his best.
He could also bring much-needed experience to the South African team, having played 61 ODIs after making his debut back in 2009.
Also on the verge of selection is Titans batsman Farhaan Behardien.
The 31-year-old failed to set the stage alight during his 16 ODI appearances, with a batting average of 22.23. The selectors, however, persisted with him and he turned out in all five ODIs against hosts Australia in November.
With the Proteas going down 4-1 in the series, and his place in the team under scrutiny, Behardien made 63 from 41 balls in the final match of the series to throw his name back into the hat. He has also had some success with the ball, picking up eight wickets, at an average of 30, for the Proteas.
In the spin department, Aaron Phangiso could well earn that final spot in the squad.
Phangiso was included in the travelling side for the Australian tour, but did not play a game after picking up a finger injury.
Returning to fitness, the 30-year-old could be selected as cover or replacement for Tahir.
Phangiso has 12 ODIs behind his name with a best of 3/43 against Zimbabwe in August last year.–Sapa