Proteas: Amla needs to stamp authority on World Cup squad

2019-03-11 11:30
Hashim Amla
Hashim Amla (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The 15-man squad that the Proteas announced on Monday for their final two ODIs against Sri Lanka could very easily become the 2019 Cricket World Cup squad. 

Reeza Hendricks and Wiaan Mulder drop out while Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Aiden Markram return. 

This squad all of a sudden has a more familiar, seasoned feel to it and the returns of Amla and Duminy provide a much-needed dose of experience to the top order. 

Most of those included on Monday have, over the previous weeks and months, become World Cup shoo-ins. 

There are still a couple of selections up in the air, though, and one of those has to do with whether or not the Proteas want to take an extra fast bowler or an extra batsman to England. 

Anrich Nortje, despite having just two ODIs to his name, is currently being picked as the back-up to the pace trio of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, though there are other seam bowling options in the form of all-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius

Faf du Plessis and the brains trust might also consider bringing Hendricks back in for Nortje. 

With coach Ottis Gibson's well-documented love for fast bowling, that seems unlikely. 

Hendricks' other way back into the World Cup mix could come at the expense of Amla. 

Left out of the squad for the first three ODIs, Amla made 10 for the Cape Cobras in a One-Day Cup game against the Titans on March 1 having struggled in the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.

Family obligations have seen him sidelined since. 

As Du Plessis explained after Sunday's win over Sri Lanka in the third ODI in Durban, what Amla offers the Proteas is hardly a secret. 

"We know what Hash has got. He has played a lot of cricket for South Africa and he has got an amazing record," Du Plessis explained at the time.

"We needed to make sure that Reeza got an opportunity this series and if Hash gets another opportunity, then hopefully he grabs it with both hands."

It now looks almost certain that Amla will get his chance against Sri Lanka.  

Now 35, Amla was always expected to partner Quinton de Kock at the top of the order in England, but recent returns have caused some alarm bells. 

Amla has been struggling for some time.

While there have been glimpses of the class that for years has accompanied one of the finest batsmen this country has ever produced, Amla has not found any consistency. 

He has scored 375 runs in his last 10 ODI innings - hardly worrying numbers - but a knock of 108* against Pakistan in January in a losing cause significantly bolsters that return. 

Whichever way you look at it, Amla's could do with finding some form and when one considers what Markram has been doing in Titans colours in recent weeks, then there can be no guarantees for Amla anymore. 

Instead, he must use these next two ODIs to extinguish the doubt that hovers over his ability to aid South Africa in their World Cup cause. 

"The main concern for me with all the players is that you need to make sure you put performances on the board going into the World Cup," Du Plessis said, still discussing Amla.

"It's about our best and most in-form team that's going and everybody in the dressing room knows that.

"I believe it's making us raise the bar in terms of our own performance."

De Kock has been scintillating at the top of the order, Du Plessis himself has been in the runs, Van der Dussen has carved out a place for himself in the middle order while Markram, Pretorius and Phehlukwayo have all made their cases with the bat at franchise level. 

"We're playing some really good white ball cricket at the moment and things are slowly starting to fall into place," the skipper added.

"There is a real consistency about all our players and that is very pleasing to see."

After weeks of uncertainty, it is finally starting to look like the national selectors are settling on the South African World Cup group.

Most are there because of recent contributions that have earned them their place. Others, like Amla, are being backed because of what they have done in times past. 

The quality of the player and the pedigree will never be questioned, but if Amla wants to command his place in this World Cup side, then a firm reminder in these last two outings against Sri Lanka would go down a treat. 

Proteas ODI squad (for final two ODIs against Sri Lanka):

Faf du Plessis (Titans, captain), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Quinton de Kock (Titans), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Imran Tahir (Dolphins), Aiden Markram (Titans), David Miller (Dolphins), Lungi Ngidi (Titans), Anrich Nortje (Warriors), Andile Phehlukwayo (Dolphins), Dwaine Pretorius (Highveld Lions), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans), Dale Steyn (Titans), Rassie van der Dussen (Highveld Lions).

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Read more on:    proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  cricket


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