Hashim Amla’s recent performances have forced the selectors to revisit the make-up of South Africa’s batting line-up.
It’s not an impossible task to imagine the three of them playing in the same XI at the World T20. Where coach Russell Domingo and captain Faf du Plessis might have been reluctant before to consider the idea, they now have no choice after back-to-back fifties by Amla, both unbeaten, against quality opposition.
You can’t really blame them because it disrupts their planning and preparation for the tournament. They now have to tinker with the batting line-up again but it is here where they need to show they can be flexible in adapting to what is best for the team.
Du Plessis said after Wednesday’s six-wicket defeat at Newlands that form would be the deciding factor in determining whether or not all three would be accommodated in the same team.
The truth is their hand has been forced because Amla is clearly in good form and so is De Kock, while De Villiers smashed 71 just the other day against England to help win that series for South Africa and is a proven match-winner.
What was seen as a straight-up decision between Amla and De Kock has now changed to deciding which middle-order batsman will have to make way in order for all three of them to play together. I think De Kock would have ultimately won the battle against Amla because he is more naturally suited to the format and secondly because as a wicketkeeper it would free De Villiers up to be a menace in the field.
The injuries to De Kock and De Villiers at different times have now changed things with not a lot of time left to get it right.
However, it’s not a difficult choice to make.
Neither Farhaan Behardien nor Rilee Rossouw took advantage of the chances they were given, and even if that is harsh it has to be remembered that Amla was also in and out of the team and managed to take his. Granted, it’s probably easier as an opener, but Rossouw had a golden opportunity to state his case on Wednesday and fluffed it.
The constant talk of dropping JP Duminy is silly and devoid of any cricket reasoning. He is South Africa’s most successful T20 batsman, has vast experience in Indian conditions and will be utilised as the very important sixth bowler.
David Miller is another player who made the most of his opportunities after a period out of the team by scoring runs in all three games against Australia.
If De Villiers, Amla and De Kock are to play in the same team, I feel they should fill the top three spots with Amla and De Kock opening and De Villiers at No 3.
The only obstacle to this is De Villiers’ preference to open the batting and Du Plessis’ desire to bat at No 3. Du Plessis will have to make peace with the fact that playing De Villiers, Amla and De Kock is probably the best thing for the team, which by extension means him staying at No 3 is not.
My XI for the World T20: Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, David Miller, JP Duminy, David Wiese, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir.