Test cricket talk was shelved briefly on Monday with South Africa naming their 15-man squad to travel to Bangladesh for the ICC World T20 starting in late-March. The bulk of the squad consisted of familiar names with a few surprise inclusions making up the rest of the side.
The same squad will get a chance to test out some combination in a three-match T20 series against Australia following the conclusion of the Test series. The two biggest “surprise” inclusions are that of Albie Morkel and Beuran Hendricks. T20 skipper Faf du Plessis spoke to the media about both players:
The rest of the squad makes for a solid combination of household names and can be heroes and can be broken down as follows below.
Expected: Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, David Miller, JP Duminy, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
The run-scoring trio
David Miller, Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla topped the run-scoring charts of the domestic T20 competition, with all three batsmen averaging above 40.00 in the tournament. In the one-day format, De Kock and Amla have formed a blossoming partnership over the South African summer. In 11 innings, they amassed 669 runs together at an average of 60.81. The pair complement each other perfectly, with Amla slotting in as the anchor role while De Kock can play his natural attacking game.
Miller is the finisher in the team, but it’s important for the Proteas to give him some time to get settled before using him in that position. Miller played a few blinders in the domestic T20, but the key to those knocks was to give him some time to get his eye in. If South Africa uses him similarly, he will be a match winner.
The middle order stalwarts
Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers need no introduction, with the former being the captain and De Villiers being the freakishly talented player that can turn any match on its head. JP Duminy might be struggling in the Test arena, but he did a fine job in the five T20 innings he played last year. He scored 190 runs at an average of 63.33. He also offers an extra option with the ball, but will need to work on his BMT. With Miller likely to be the designated “floating” batsman, Duminy’s position might change from game to game – and adjustability, and the ability to stay calm in a tight situation, will be crucial.
The key bowlers
The expected bowling attack offers a number of variations for South Africa. Lonwabo Tsotsobe didn’t play in the domestic T20 this season due to an ankle injury, and managed just seven wickets in seven T20s last year, but his experience cannot be discounted. Experience is also what South Africa has in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, while Wayne Parnell offers pure pace and is a real wicket-taking option.
Good to see
Imran Tahir has had success on the subcontinent many times before and while he has dipped in and out of the Test squad, he is still very much valued in limited overs. He only made his T20 debut in 2013, but took seven wickets in six matches at an average of 15.57. He remains a confidence bowler and when his tail is up, Tahir can be brutal. He had a poor outing in the domestic T20, though, with just three wickets in eight games at an average of 68.00.
Meanwhile, Beuran Hendricks’ inclusion is perhaps the first logical call South Africa’s selectors have made this year. He topped the wicket-taking charts in the domestic competition, with 28 wickets at an average of 10.28 and 12 wickets more than the player with the second-most wickets. Hendricks is a solid death bowler with a good yorker, good pace and the ability to swing the ball if the conditions suit him. He’s also a left-arm option, but inexperience might be against him. He’s uncapped and only made his T20 debut in 2011. Whether South Africa are willing to gamble on blooding a youngster at an ICC tournament will remain to be seen.
Albie Morkel is perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire squad. He scored just 202 runs in the domestic T20 competition and those came at an average of 28.85. He scored just one fifty in 10 games with a top score of 66. Sure, Morkel is vastly experienced in T20s and holds the record for most T20 appearances, but he’s not been near the South African squad for a while. He last featured for the national team in 2012, during the World T20 in Sri Lanka, but in that tournament, he scored just 19 runs in four games and took two wickets at an average of 30.00. Morkel is talented, but his lack of BMT has let him down time and time again in the past and there are other all-round options available. Convenor of selectors, Andrew Hudson, said Morkel had an “outstanding campaign” in the domestic T20 competition, but that’s a pretty low benchmark for outstanding.
Aaron Phangiso had a decent campaign in the domestic T20 competition, with 11 wickets in nine games at an average of 17.90. He was particularly crafty in the Lions final game with figures of three for 18, including the prize scalps of Morne van Wyk and David Miller. He is another inexperienced spinner, though, and on sub-continental wickets it’s curious that South Africa have opted for two relatively rookie T20 spinners.
Farhaan Behardien is another player who is perhaps somewhat lucky to be in the squad. He had an okay outing in the domestic T20, with 288 runs at an average of 36.00, but managed just one fifty in 11 games. He has had a few chances to prove himself at international level, but has not passed 31 in any of the ten games he has played. Behardien is already 30, so it’s not even a case of looking towards the future. Perhaps it’s just another case of “safe” selection, opting for somebody who has been part of the side instead of sending a youngster to a baptism by fire.
Those who missed out: Ryan McLaren, Kyle Abbott, Robin Peterson
Kyle Abbott has become one of the key bowlers for the Dolphins and his exclusion will certainly raise a few eyebrows. If he was included, another bowler would have needed to be dropped, but how do you exclude Hendricks on merit? Abbott’s exclusion is frustration, but it makes sense with the overall make-up of the squad taken into account.
Robin Peterson is perhaps the most surprising exclusion. He took 11 wickets at an average of 21.54 in the domestic T20. He played just one T20 for South Africa last year, but remains a solid all-round option especially in conditions which are more suitable to his style of play. Ryan McLaren also only played two T20s for South Africa last year and had an average campaign within the domestic T20. Both of the latter players could have come into the side for Albie Morkel, though.
Full South African World T20 squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe. DM
Photo: Albie Morkel, the biggest surpirse of the entire squad. (REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte)
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