With the T20 World Cup only six months away, Proteas head coach Mark Boucher faces a lot of interesting selection choices in the lead-up to the showpiece. CARL LEWIS looks at the potential makeup of the squad.
The core group: Temba Bavuma (c), Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje.
Aiden Markram – Markram is playing some of the best cricket of his career. His white-ball game seems to be taking shape nicely. He top-scored for the Proteas in the recent T20I series and scored at a strike rate of over 180. The form batsman in South African cricket.
George Linde – Linde has performed both internationally and domestically when asked to and should make the squad on current form. He has an impressive temperament.
Tabraiz Shamsi – Shamsi blows hot and cold at times but remains South Africa’s best wrist-spin option post Imran Tahir. He has bamboozled domestic batters for years but needs to find his consistency on the international stage. It’s hard to imagine him not making the side.
Heinrich Klaasen –Klaasen can be destructive but has not kicked on since his ODI century against Australia last year. Kyle Verreynne is not far behind him in the wicketkeeper-batsman pecking order. It could be a straight shootout between the two for a place in the squad.
Faf du Plessis – The veteran has been away from the Proteas squad of late. His IPL form will be a key indicator as to where his T20 game is at. Experience is needed but Du Plessis is not guaranteed a place in the eventual squad.
Not far off
Janneman Malan – An exciting talent but Malan is behind a stacked and experienced pecking order in the Proteas top three. It is hard to see him, De Kock, Bavuma and Markram in the same squad.
Dwaine Pretorius – A reliable all-rounder who performed well in the T20I series against Pakistan in Pakistan. He and Phehlukwayo look the most likely fast-bowling all-rounder options for the World Cup.
Kyle Verreynne – If it was down to form, temperament and talent ceiling, then the Cobras youngster would be a definite part of my squad. It comes across as if Boucher does not seem as enthused as many other South Africans regarding his talent and selection.
Sisanda Magala – He deservedly got his shot in the national side after years after expert death bowling in domestic cricket. The major concern was the frequency of no-balls bowled against Pakistan. He showed glimpses of his quality and is undeniably skilful and has the tools to make an impact.
Outsiders and hopefuls
Reeza Hendricks – Injury prevented him from playing recently especially after he had an impressive CSA T20 Challenge. He is a consistent T20 performer domestically. However, his absence allowed Markram and Malan to jump ahead of him in the Proteas top-order battle.
Keshav Maharaj – Maharaj was outstanding in the CSA T20 Challenge earlier this year and showed his class as a white-ball cricketer bowling with control and picking up wickets. With Linde and Shamsi ahead of him in the pecking order, and Maharaj just not being selected in the format, he is a long shot.
AB de Villiers – The levels he can reach is still unattainable for any of the Proteas batters. The topic of his return has been spoken about to death but the fact remains he is still South Africa’s best batter despite being retired.
Chris Morris – The $2-million man possesses the skills to win T20 matches with bat and ball. If Boucher still wants him, he could be an asset but his future in the national team is very uncertain. In a squad of 15, either one of Pretorius, Phehlukwayo or Morris would have to drop out you would imagine.
Bjorn Fortuin – The left-arm orthodox spinner is a wily white-ball bowler than can bowl in the powerplay and the middle overs. It seems Linde is ahead of him, though.
Jon Jon Smuts – On paper, Smuts covers a lot of bases for the Proteas but this has not translated into performance on the field. Linde has surpassed him in the spinning all-rounder department.
Lizaad Williams – Williams acquitted himself relatively well in his recent debut series against Pakistan, picking up seven wickets. His fiery attitude stood out but, unfortunately, the Proteas are stacked with fast-bowling talent.
Long shots: Lutho Sipamla, Wiaan Mulder, Daryn Dupavillon, Beuran Hendricks, Pite van Biljon, Wihan Lubbe.