• SA’s uncomfortable scapegoat

    Reeza Hendricks is the fall guy for Hashim Amla’s inclusion in South Africa’s squad for the 2019 World Cup, writes Jonhenry Wilson.

    Convenor of selectors Linda Zondi suggested Aiden Markram could be overlooked for Amla prior to Thursday’s squad announcement.

    ‘There are a couple of decisions that need to be made, especially around Markram and Amla, but we have to put our feelings aside and make a decision.

    Obviously, not everyone will agree with us, but we have to accept that,’ Zondi was quoted as saying by Eyewitness News.Those ‘feelings’ were not ‘put aside’, though, and Amla and Markram were included – and Hendricks excluded.

    The decision leaves immense pressure on Amla, whose future in the ODI squad is limited regardless of a superb or poor campaign in the United Kingdom.

    Much like Imran Tahir, who will leave the intermediate format of the international game after the World Cup, his ODI stay shouldn’t extend beyond mid-July.

    Amla’s inclusion in the squad obviously doesn’t guarantee a berth in the first-choice XI. If Quinton de Kock opens the batting alongside Aiden Markram, who is currently enjoying a headstart in English conditions during a stint with Hampshire, Amla might be deemed surplus to requirement on match days.

    This is a huge opportunity for Markram to definitively cement a permanent berth in the ODI team, at the top or in the middle of the order. Faf du Plessis won’t be around for the 2023 World Cup in India.

    Now is the time to start to grooming Markram, who briefly captained the Proteas against India last year, as du Plessis’ eventual successor.

    While Chris Morris and Wiaan Mulder’s omissions can’t genuinely be argued, Hendricks and fans can feel aggrieved. The squad, indeed, is well enough balanced – and wouldn’t been thrown off kilter by an additional balance instead of a fourth frontline fast bowlers.

    The presence of seaming all-rounders Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo could have seen Anrich Nortje, who is inexperienced at international level and nursing injury, and an extra batsman – Hendricks – included.

    Du Plessis will be able find supplementary overs from Pretorius, Phehlukwayo, Markram and JP Duminy on the day, but extracting more runs from a squad arguably shy a batsman is a substantially tougher ask.’When you only have 15 to pick, there is bound to be someone or the other who misses out, which is very unfortunate.

    I would have preferred 16 players. We had mentioned to the International Cricket Council that in a tournament that long, 16 players makes sense. But the diktat was 15,’ India head coach Ravi Shastri was quoted as saying by Sport360.

    In India’s case, Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant are the most notable omissions. For South Africa, Hendricks would have been the 16th, but is instead the 15’s awkward scapegoat.

    Photo: Gallo Images

    Post by

    Jonhenry Wilson