National selection panel convener Linda Zondi hardly misses an opportunity to reiterate Cricket South Africa’s so-called ‘Vision 2019’, but could be accused of parading excuse as reason, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
‘Vision 2019′ was effectively introduced in early 2018, prior to the Proteas’ limited-overs series against India, to ‘identify and create further options for key roles in our line-up,’ according to Zondi.
Debuts in T20I and/or ODI cricket have since followed for batsmen Khaya Zondo, Heinrich Klaasen, Reeza Hendricks, Christiaan Jonker, Gihahn Cloete and Rassie van der Dussen – and seamer Junior Dala. Limited-overs recalls for batsman Dean Elgar and spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi and fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Dane Paterson, too, highlighted Zondi and company’s bid to broaden the pool.
Batsmen Farhaan Behardien and Aiden Markram and all-rounder Chris Morris, meanwhile, have not been chosen for this month’s ODIs against Pakistan. All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius has been retained.
The young Wiaan Mulder is playing domestic competition again after a substantial stint on the sidelines due to injury, while the veteran Vernon Philander has not played an ODI since 2015, but boasts an outside chance of selection for the World Cup.
Options outside the experienced core of Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir and others, are indeed vast and varied for Zondi and cronies.
Whether the relatively constant chopping and changing over the past 12 months has empowered or hampered inexperienced individuals and the evolving collective, though, remains in the balance.
Yes, there is only so much space in an XI and squad – and Zondi’s insistence that ‘we need to look at all the options available to us as we get closer to selecting our final squad for this year’s World Cup’ requires practice to match theory. However, personnel flux and selection swaps – especially among new international batsmen – might prove counterproductive.
Not unlike the treatment of Theunis de Bruyn in the Test XI, players like Jonker and Zondo’s appearances in the ODI team have been patchy – and therefore opportunity to truly impress, to genuinely push for a World Cup berth – has evaded both.
Zondi says Behardien, Markram and Morris ‘are by no means out of the picture and they may well get further opportunities in the second half of the series’ against Pakistan. Perhaps others, too. That’s by no means a guarantee either, but if Zondi’s words materialise, regardless of the scoreline two matches into the five-ODI series, Jonker, Zondi and others deserve another go.
This will, after all, be South Africa’s penultimate ODI series prior to the start of the World Cup in the United Kingdom in May. If this month’s outing against Pakistan doesn’t all but finalise the 15 that will go to England, March’s five ODIs against Sri Lanka certainly won’t.