With the number of fringe Proteas players in the Indian Premier League limited by a lack of interest in South African players at the auction, the main attraction for national team selectors will be the performance of three established performers.
Mark Boucher has told AB de Villiers, Chris Morris and Imran Tahir that they must make themselves available for the Proteas winter tours to be considered for the T20 World Cup.
The IPL will give all three players a platform to prove their fitness, form and desire as Boucher looks to whip the Proteas into championship-winning shape by October.
Morris and de Villiers will turn out together at the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
RCB spent R20 million to bring Morris to Bangalore, and the all-rounder has made it clear that he wants to be picked for the Proteas again.
‘There is no reason that I wouldn’t want to play for South Africa,’ Morris told Netwerk24.
‘Hopefully it happens after the IPL this year, but I have never insisted on being selected.’
Morris has the biggest point to prove of the three, not just because of the massive price tag RCB put on him. There is little doubt that Morris is a quality T20 franchise cricketer, but he will need to consistently win matches in the IPL to convince the selectors he can aid the Proteas’ cause in Australia.
De Villiers has yet to fully commit to a comeback, but the end of the IPL will spell decision time for the global superstar. It has been pointed out that as good as de Villiers is at T20 Cricket, the teams he plays for seldom win trophies. If de Villiers can inspire RCB to break their IPL curse, he might be more inclined to turn his talents to ending the Proteas’ ICC trophy drought.
Tahir is part of a trio of South Africans at the Chennai Super Kings, but he is the most likely of the three to miss out on the T20 World Cup. Faf du Plessis may have lost the captaincy, but he should still be in the group and Lungi Ngidi’s main concern will be staying fit.
It would be a tough call to replace Tabraiz Shamsi with Tahir and, given both aren’t too flash with willow in hand, it is unlikely they will occupy the same playing XI. Tahir will be 41 years old when the World Cup rolls around, but his wicket-taking ability gives the selectors a headache.
All three players are still being considered for selection and the IPL provides them with an excellent platform to push their case. The IPL gets underway on 29 March.
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