Sport

Cricket: South Africa’s Champions Trophy Squad dissected

By Ant Sims 3 May 2013

The Proteas have a named a predictable and somewhat conservative side for the ICC Champions Trophy. ANT SIMS runs the rule over those picked and glances at their form over the last few months to see where the stakes are stacked for the South Africans.

South Africa has named its 15-man squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in June, and barring Jacques Kallis asking to be left out, there weren’t any real surprises. Despite their new look – which, admittedly, resembles something Australia wore in 1999 – South Africa has stuck with the tried-and-tested pool of players they have been building since last year.

With just one ODI to play (a friendly against the Netherlands) there’s not much of an indication of form coming up, so we’ve dug into the archives to see how those named in the squad have performed over the last 12 months – across the different formats, and both internationally and domestically.

AB de Villiers

AB de Villiers is still one of the best batsmen in the world, and the skipper and gloveman rightfully earned his place in the squad. His form since taking over the extra responsibility has been sensational, but he’ll have to work on his captaincy. There were a few issues with overrates in his last two series, and De Villiers copping a ban for any length of time is the last thing South Africa needs. South Africa will lay two of its three group games in Cardiff, where rain is synonymous with cricket. Duckworth-Lewis and the Proteas have never been friends and that’s where skipper AB de Villiers will play a key role, choosing when it’s right to bat and how fast to go if rain is imminent. All the intricate details that often get taken for granted will rest on De Villiers’ shoulders.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 11
Runs scored:  544 / High score: 128
Average:  68.00

Hashim Amla

Another vital cog in the South African wheel, Amla has had a brilliant 12 months with the bat. He’s continuously proven that he can adjust to different conditions in a flash and the English pitches will suit him just fine.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 11
Runs scored:  552 / High score: 150
Average:  61.33

Farhaan Behardien

One of the Proteas newbies, Farhaan Behardien hasn’t lived up to his full potential on the international stage just yet. He showed glimpses of what he’s capable of against Pakistan and will face the old foe in South Africa’s second group game in Edgbaston.

ODIs played over the last 12 months:  7
Runs scored:  169 / High score: 58
Average:  33.80

JP Duminy

After a freak injury which sidelined him since South Africa’s tour of Australia last year, JP Duminy earns a free pass back into the South African side. Duminy plays a crucial role in that he offers a little bit extra with the ball, and if De Villiers needs somebody to keep one end tight, Duminy can be it. Whether he’ll be able to adjust right back to the pace of international cricket after a long layoff, only time will tell – and his form prior to injury was somewhat shaky. He last managed a 50 in January 2012, and while many will dispute his passage right back into the team, the lack of better options warrants Duminy’s inclusion.

ODIs played over the last 12 months:  5
Runs scored: 65   / High score:  33
Average:  21.66

Faf du Plessis

While he’s been quite superb in the Test arena, Faf du Plessis’ ODI form has been somewhat disappointing. He’s struggled on international level, despite substantial contributions domestically.  As the vice-captain of the team, Du Plessis has to step up and perform, since the understudy captain should never have automatic passage into the team just because of his title. He’s familiar with English conditions, though, after lengthy county stints, and while he was a flop there last year (scoring 27 runs in four matches), he looked much better against Pakistan and might draw some confidence from his Test match exploits.

ODIs played over the last 12 months:  11
Runs scored:  193  / High score:  57
Average:  21.44

Colin Ingram

Colin Ingram always seems to do just enough to keep his spot in the South African side. Whether it’s scoring runs when it matters or simply when it’s impressive, he’s been up and down since he made his debut. During last year’s domestic one-day competition he averaged 20.66 in seven matches and scored just 124 runs. In the domestic T20 competition he averaged 21.25 and managed a much more respectable 179 runs in eight matches, though. Still, Ingram’s inclusion seems based more on hope that he will pull off something good, rather than knowing that he will.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 8
Runs scored: 270 / High score: 105*
Average:  38.57

Rory Kleinveldt

Another rookie in the squad, Rory Kleinveldt has had his ups and down over the last few months. He struggles with consistency, but when he gets it right he is brutally effective. Barring his bowling prowess, he’s also a fierce lower-order hitter who can contribute some handy runs when the side finds itself in the soup. His domestic form in the shorter formats wasn’t great, but with a little bit of TLC, Kleinveldt has the potential to become a great one-day bowler. Whether South Africa can afford the luxury of time in such a no-mercy knock-out competition is another question, though.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 6
Wickets taken: 10 / BBI: 4/22
Economy rate: 5.15

Ryan McLaren

Ryan McLaren is another case of ‘Will he or won’t he?’, and seems to have each spectacular match followed by a pile of garbage. In the all-rounder stakes, though, nobody else is being groomed to fill the rule of average medium pacer and handy hitter. There’s not much choice but to include McLaren, for the sake of balance, especially considering they’ll need runs – and loads of them.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 11
Wickets taken: 19 / BBI: 4/46
Economy rate: 5.01
Runs scored: 89

David Miller

David Miller is just 23 years old and he’s already played 20 ODIs for South Africa. When he was axed from the side in 2011, he went on to build a reputation for himself on domestic circuits both at home and in England as one of the best finishers in the game. He earned a second chance with the Proteas on the back of that, but only after injury sidelined Faf du Plessis. He didn’t disappoint when he showed up on his home turf and whacked a hand 67 runs to help South Africa to a respectable total after the top order flopped. If he gets a game, it’s Miller’s best chance to prove he’s got what it takes to make it at the highest level.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 4
Runs scored: 116 / High score: 67
Average:  38.66

Morne Morkel

Morne Morkel is a fine bowler, but is so prone to inconsistency and cracks in his mental strength that he’s never quite fulfilled his potential. Considering he’s quite good as he is already, it’s somewhat sad that he never managed to get over those small cracks and wasted his potential. He’s still a crucial part of the one-day set up, though, and the kind of bowler who’ll savour the swing-friendly conditions England is so well-known for.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 6
Wickets taken: 10 / BBI: 3-71
Economy rate: 5.10

Robin Peterson

Prone to lower-order antics of match-saving proportions, Robin Peterson has seemingly carved a niche for himself. He does often get things quite wrong with the ball, but he remains the stop-gap option in the spin department, while South Africa continues its search for another expat not good enough to play for his home country.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 12
Wickets taken: 14 / BBI: 3/37
Economy rate: 4.90
Runs scored: 123

Aaron Phangiso

It’s just reward for Aaron Phangiso to be included in the squad, but his chances of getting a game in the first stages seem slim. He has to contend with first choice option Robin Peterson, and with JP Duminy back and offering an extra bowling option, Phangiso will probably spend most of the Champions Trophy carrying drinks – since the Proteas are unlikely to be so progressive as to pick two spinners on tracks that are unlikely to turn too much. Phangiso got a beating in his only ODI, but did reasonably well in the domestic one-day competition, yet even those figures are unlikely to see him elevated into the starting XI.

Wickets taken: 8 / BBI: 3-16
Economy rate: 4.42

Graeme Smith

The jury is still out on Graeme Smith and his inclusion in the one-day side. While dropping him and pushing AB de Villiers up to open in order to make space for a younger talent remains an option, Smith’s experience – especially from a captaincy perspective – is something the Proteas could use in an ODI competition.

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 12
Runs scored: 344 / High score: 116
Average:  31.27

Dale Steyn

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 9
Wickets taken: 9 / BBI: 2-24
Economy rate: 3.87

Lonwabo Tsotsobe

ODIs played over the last 12 months: 12
Wickets taken: 15 / BBI: 4-45
Economy rate: 5.40

Notable exclusions

Quinton de Kock wasn’t included in the side, mostly because there’s no space for him. De Kock remains on standby should anything happen to De Villiers, but with failing to live up to his reputation on the international stage, there was no room to include him, even as a specialist batsman.  Jacques Kallis told selectors he wasn’t mentally up for the task so will play no part in the tournament. He hasn’t featured in an ODI for almost a year, though, so perhaps the exclusion isn’t all that surprising. DM

Photo: South Africa’s AB de Villiers plays a shot bowled by Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz during their final one-day international (ODI) cricket match in Benoni March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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