Linda Zondi is confident that the 15-man World Cup squad have been picked on merit and are clear of racial bias.
The Proteas squad announcement was not an easy task. There were some tough decisions to make and after countless discussions and debates, the final XV was revealed at a squad announcement launch on 18 April.
Zondi was given the task to pick what he believes is a World Cup-winning side.
The major talking point was Reeza Hendricks missing out on a spot, a decision which was just as tough for the convenor of selectors as it was for Hendricks’ fans.
The final decision was made and it was a task that the 43-year-old admitted was absorbing.
‘It consumed me wholeheartedly and every day,’ Zondi told Sport 24.
‘I had to focus on my fulltime job at the Department of Health and also put my efforts into the convenorship.
‘There were a lot of sleepless nights. I trusted the selection panel, the coach and the captain and we all had a common goal.’
The Cricket South Africa CEO, shortly before the Proteas World Cup squad announcement, made it clear that there would be no transformation targets for the competition.
This gave the Proteas selectors the reins to pick fully on merit, which Zondi believes his panel were able to achieve.
‘We have so many quality guys coming through the system, which is a credit to our pipeline and the franchise system,’ he said.
‘To see the team become a representative and non-racial side based on quality first is a great feeling. We have not accepted mediocrity.’
The Proteas’ World Cup history is the main reason for the ‘chokers’ tag that follows them. But Zondi admitted that the squad selected was with the intention to erase that negative branding.
‘We thought a lot about gelling youth and experience and we also wanted to eliminate this choking tag,’ he said.
‘The only way you can do that is by having young guys and we have players who are winners in their own rights.
‘Yes, there were tough decisions, but we made them based on stats and facts and what we felt would be the right combinations.’
The Proteas play against hosts England in their first match at The Oval on 30 May.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images