The debate around who to leave out has somehow hidden something that for any other team will be much bigger, the hole left by the retirement of one AB de Villiers.
As expected, he wasn’t there when the squad was announced on Thursday but this hasn’t dampened the spirits and thus below we take a closer look at the 15 man who will carry the hopes and dreams of a nation into the ICC Cricket World Cup to be hosted by England and Wales.
Faf Du Plessis – Captain
Captain “Faftastic” is in the form of his life and has led from the front. He goes into the showpiece event relatively confident after a series of high scores. He plays the situation very well, whether coming in early after a top order collapse or finishing off the innings. Knowing when to attack and when to defend is one of his greatest strengths. He is no AB de Villiers but his experience will come in handy.
The Proteas run machine has been a shadow of himself lately. He holds the record for being the quickest man to reach 4000, 5000, 6000 and 7000 ODI runs. That’s just how good he is but lately loss of form and an off field family responsibility has meant the usually dependable Amla is no longer a certainty for the first XI. His experience comes in handy though especially in the English conditions. Doesn’t score as quickly as modern batsman do but he can be the perfect ally for Quinton de Kock to play with more freedom.
Quinton de Kock
The hope is that he has not peaked too early for the Proteas and will need this kind of form at the showpiece event. He plays with so much freedom at the top of the innings and on his day; he can tear any bowling unit apart. He’s been compared to the legendary Australian wicket keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist because of the way he goes about his business with bat in hand. If he continues this vein of form into the World Cup, then the Proteas can post competitive scores. Many a local fan will be praying he does not get injured especially now that he is the only specialist wicket keeper in the side.
Rassie Van Der Dussen
Rassie has taken his chance with aplomb. Picked after a few good years in the domestic scene, he is finally reaping the rewards for his hard work and patience. He’s become an integral part of the batting unit. His versatility stands him in good stead as he can float around the batting order depending on the needs of the side. Van Der Dussen can hit a long ball and knows how to defend too when the situation requires it.
An U-19 World Cup winning Captain and future Proteas Captain, whether or not Aiden Markram makes the starting 11 at the showpiece event is another story. That he made the 15 man squad is a triumph on its own as his place was under threat after a number of low scores in the ODIs. The experience of being there though will put him in good stead for his future captaincy duties. He’s lit the domestic scene with some explosive innings but has found it rather tough going in the green and gold. A real talent who’s sure to be the leader of the batting unit for years to come. Maybe this is not his time but being around the team might be a good learning curve for future international tournaments.
David has the ability to turn a match on its head with one hit as he can take a game away from the opposition with a few lusty blows. He is the finisher in the side. It is a pity that his brilliant moments are few and far between though and if ever consistency was needed it will be now. The world is watching.
The showpiece event will be JP Duminy’s international swansong thus he would love to go off on a high by helping the Proteas to a first international limited overs title. Infuriating at times for his unfulfilled potential. Promised so much yet as he is about to bow out, many a fan out there will always believe he could have achieved more. Has not done badly yet he hasn’t set the scene alight either. Oh Duminy can you repay the faith shown in you and go out on a high.
A player who easily goes under the radar hence why he is soo under appreciated. Goes about his business quietly yet effectively. As effective as he is, there is that underlying issue that he can do more especially with the bat. He has the ability but has not yet erupted in the national colours with the bat. Likely to be the first pick all-rounder in the side come game day.
From the periphery to making a strong case to be a starter at the showpiece event. Pretorius, a beneficiary of Coach Ottis Gibson’s obsession with all-rounders at first has grabbed his chance. He hasn’t put a foot wrong since his recall to the side. A few months back he wouldn’t have made many a fan’s pick for the World Cup but now looks a likely starter in the top 11. Another player who always gives his all.
Came back well after spending much of the summer out injured. His ability to pick up early wickets makes him a potent weapon up front. Can be a bit expensive here and there but makes up for it with the wickets and aggression upfront. A sure starter at the showpiece event.
Many a Proteas fan was concerned when he started talking about tiredness but that hasn’t shown in his IPL performances so far. He is currently lighting up the Indian Premier League with his express pace. One of the best fast bowlers in the world by a country mile. If he has a good tournament, the Proteas are bound to go far. At his best he is unplayable, every batsman’s nightmare. The leader of the attack according to many.
Like a certain Tiger Woods, many had written him off after an injury ravaged three years but Dale Steyn has come back like a man possessed. The man with the fiery eyes is back stronger than ever. His passion for the game still burns as bright as ever. He would like to finally bury the demons from the last World Cup where Elliot hit that monster six to clinch a spot in the Final for New Zealand.
Yes it is not the subcontinent but the pitches in England tend to be dry hence spin is bound to play a huge role. So who better to call upon than Imran Tahir. The attacking leg spinner has been a revelation since making his Proteas debut in 2011. Another one who will be making his swansong in the ODIs at the World Cup. The man synonymous with his wild celebrations will be the go to man for Captain du Plessis in search of wickets in the middle overs and possibly the death. Still plays the game like a 20 year old at the ripe age of 39. If the Proteas are to go all the way, then Tahir is sure to play a huge role.
A complete squad player, not because of his ability or lack thereof but because of the brilliance of Imran Tahir. A second option spinner if the Proteas are to go with two spinners. Duminy’s presence in the 11 will mean less game time for Shamsi but always does a good job whenever called upon. That India and Pakistan have won the past two Champion’s trophy’s played in England means spin might just play more of a role than many expect thus Shamsi will come in handy.
Came out of the blue to make his ODI debut and subsequently make an impression big enough to stay in the World Cup debate. He was first selected because of his impressive form in the inaugural Mzansi Super League. Has pace to burn and acts as an aggressor when called upon.
Not a lot of talk has centered on the Proteas being favorites for this year’s World Cup. Whether that is a good or bad thing, only time will tell if that could work in their favour as the players can play with more freedom. Ask Faf du Plessis and he will tell you every time they put on the national team colours, there is always pressure to perform and win.
Can they? Anyone can!