South Africa have named their 15-man squad on Thursday for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup that will be held from May 30 in the United Kingdom. The major surprise was the inclusion of experienced Hashim Amla who pipped Reeza Hendricks for the opening batsman slot.
Faf du Plessis will lead the South African squad that contains a good mix of players with proven World Cup experience and a new generation of exciting talent at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) named their 15-man squad in a live broadcast at the SuperSport Headquarters in Randburg on Thursday.
Five of the players – Du Plessis himself, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn – made their World Cup debuts at the tournament on the sub-continent in 2011 and are thus playing in their third World Cup.
Quinton de Kock and David Miller made their debuts in the 2015 tournament in Australia and will be going to the World Cup for the second time.
“We are very happy with the squad we have been able to put together and have every confidence in their ability to do our country proud at the World Cup,” commented CSA National Selection Panel (NSP) convener Linda Zondi.
“The fact that we have managed to win our last five series in a row in this format against Zimbabwe, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka twice underlines the quality of the team that Faf will lead into the contest. The final selection is also the result of a very rigorous search we have conducted, leaving no stone unturned, to make sure that we have made the best use of the options available to us.
“We feel that Faf’s team is well equipped to handle whatever conditions are presented to them, bearing in mind the weather extremes one can encounter in the British Isles.
“We have also been highly encouraged by the form shown by those of our players who are currently in action in the Indian Premier League and there is no doubt that there is a great sense of anticipation and determination among our players.
“As is well known you need a good squad of 15 players to come out on top with the demanding fixtures list ahead of us rather than just a first XI and I have been particularly encouraged by the depth of talent that has revealed itself to us during the selection process."
"I am also very happy to announce that two of our fast bowlers currently on the injured list, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, are well on the way to recovery and we expect them to be ready for our pre-tournament camp next month,” concluded Mr. Zondi.
CSA Chief Executive Thabang Moroe commented: “Congratulations to the National Selection Panel on the work they have done to put a squad together that I am sure will meet with approval from all quarters and will represent us well, and to the players on their well-deserved selection."
CSA President Chris Nenzani commented, "On behalf of the CSA Family and indeed of the entire nation I wish our Proteas everything of the best for the World Cup. I am sure you will all make us proud.”
The rest of the selection is on expected lines with Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje forming a potent pace attack.
Veteran Amla, a South African great who has scored more than 18,000 runs in international cricket, was not a certainty in the team this time due to his inconsistent form. In the end, the selectors decided to go with the 36-year-old over the much younger Hendricks, who has played only 18 ODIs.
The Fad du Plessis-led squad has two specialist all-rounders in Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius while Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi are the two wrist spinners in the 15-member team.
Opener Quinton de Kock is the sole specialist wicketkeeper in the squad with middle-order batsman David Miller expected to do that job in his absence.
Perennial underachievers of the game, South Africa are aiming to win their maiden World Cup trophy. They open their campaign against hosts England on May 30.
Experienced pacer Steyn, who is playing in the IPL, said on Wednesday that South African can end their World Cup jinx with a "bit of luck".
"We are going with good expectations," said Steyn, who plays for IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.
"If you are not going to the World Cup expecting to win, then you probably shouldn't go. But I'm not going to lie, we have some fantastic players," said the 35-year-old, who has taken 196 ODI wickets and 439 Test scalps.
Along with the squad announcement, CSA also launched #ItsMoreThanCricket, a drive that is aimed to show the country a different side to the Proteas. It will highlight the continuous work the Proteas do as a team to understand one another better, so that they can change for the better. This is a strong fundamental of their dominant team culture.
Like South Africa, the team’s diversity is its strength, when South Africans work together it’s an advantage over the rest of the world. The Proteas are one of the most diverse sports teams in the world and their record over the years proves just how their diversity has been their strength.
Squad: Faf du Plessis (C), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock (WK), JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Rassie van der Dussen.
(With Agency inputs)