Cape Town – Expect JP Duminy’s six months if inactivity to
end when he takes his place in the South African squad to be announced on
Thursday for the ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom during June.
My understanding is that he has overcome the key obstacle of
proving his fitness sufficiently for consideration – expect, thus, his known,
huge value to the Proteas’ ODI cause to be deemed enough of a passport to the
tournament, even given the risk associated with his lengthy stint on the
Selection convenor Andrew Hudson will reveal the 15-strong
party for the Champions Trophy at Newlands, accompanied by coach Gary Kirsten
and manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee.
Duminy has reportedly already been batting without
discomfort at nets and will take another important rehabilitative step very
shortly when he also starts bowling his off-spinners again.
The little left-hander has been out of action since early
November, when he tore an Achilles tendon in a freak “warm-down” accident after
day one of the first Test against Australia at Brisbane, without even having
actually taken to the crease yet.
Less than ideally – but still typically of modern
international scheduling – South Africa will play just one cobwebs-easing match
against relative minnows the Netherlands (though it appears it will carry official
ODI status) at Amstelveen on May 31, before their first group game against
India at Cardiff on June 6.
Several Proteas players will enter the swansong Champions
Trophy off a few weeks of idleness since Pakistan’s visit – SA won the ODI
series 3-2 – though various others have been active in the Indian Premier
League Twenty20 jamboree.
Duminy will certainly start the tournament a lot more “cold”
than the rest, but it is presumably hoped the 94-capper (batting average 40.01
and strike rate a brisk 83.60) will recapture his mojo pretty quickly – quite a
few class acts do, occasionally even revelling in the mental refreshment that
comes with an enforced layoff.
It is unlikely that the squad will contain any notable
surprises, even if somebody like Chris Morris, the Lions lower-order all-rounder,
is sticking his hand up for “BMT” at present in the rather different
environment of the IPL for Chennai Super Kings – he has two T20 international
caps but not yet 50-overs recognition.
If the selectors opt for the “stability” route, they may simply
name en masse the 14 players initially chosen to do duty against Pakistan
recently (though Kyle Abbott and Quinton de Kock were later added), plus
veteran all-rounder and still automatic selection Jacques Kallis, who was
rested for that series.
Under those circumstances, the party would be: AB de
Villiers (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques
Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Robin
Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Graeme Smith, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
A personal preference would be to omit Phangiso (the side
already has a specialist left-arm spinner in long-serving first-choice Robin
Peterson) and squeeze in the stroke-playing phenomenon De Kock, who also
usefully doubles as a second wicketkeeper should mishap suddenly befall De
Given the relatively early-summer scheduling of the
Champions Trophy in the UK, the selectors may also see fit to lighten the
batting a little – Ingram might be the casualty if that happens? – and beef up
the seam arsenal even more.
In that case Abbott or the wildcard Morris could be a
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