Did the selectors get it right?

Times Media


THERE were no glaring omissions from South Africa’s squad for the Champions Trophy in England in June.

Similarly, no-one has been left in the cold from the squads for South Africa A’s four-day and one-day tour to England, which were also named on Wednesday.

From Keshav Maharaj’s inclusion for the first time in the format to Morne Morkel’s ODI return, and Dale Steyn’s trial run for the A side as he looks to make his way back from a broken shoulder, it all makes sense.

It also adds up on the transformation scorecard, what with eight of the 15 of colour.

Even so, selection convenor Linda Zondi said on Thursday, “There are always tough decisions to make, particularly when it comes to the balance of the side.

“For instance, we had a lot to talk about when discussing the bowling allrounders and the spinners.” 

Indeed, Zondi and his selectors would seem to have applied the same thoughtfulness that has served them – and their teams – well in the past.

But have they got it right this time?

Proof of that will be delivered only by South Africa’s performance in the Champions Trophy.

For now, all we have are more questions.

Some will want to know what JP Duminy is doing in the squad having been dismissed for fewer than 50 in 14 of his last 20 ODI innings.

But much the same people are likely to look past the fact that David Miller has done the same in 12 of his last 20 trips to the crease in the format.

Just to even the score further Duminy and Miller have each scored three half-centuries in that time.

That Duminy is struggling at test level, where he has reached 50 three times in 15 innings, will no doubt cloud perceptions over the wisdom of retaining him in the ODI mix.

Zondi admitted that he was “very worried” about Duminy in a test sense, and the player himself has obliquely acknowledged that he is in poor form by opting out of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

AB de Villiers has not – and, hindsight being the bastard it is, people are justified in wondering whether he made the wrong decision considering he has sat out half of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s six games with a back injury.

Then again, there was no shortage of those who reckoned De Villiers erred when he put playing in the IPL ahead of turning out for South Africa’s test series against New Zealand and England.

Perhaps karma really is a bitch.

It will be if it decides that South Africa will be without their captain for the Champions Trophy.

The closest Zondi and his panel came to snubbing a player was by not picking Aiden Markram for the Champions Trophy.

Markram has scored 161 and 183 in his last five one-day innings for the Titans, and is the hottest topic of cricket conversation in this country.

But before we get carried away let’s remember that he’ll be right there and raring to go as part of the South Africa A squad.

Selecting is a tricky, thankless business.

If South Africa win the Champions Trophy, no-one will remember to thank the selectors.

But, if they crash out in a manner that has become all too familiar for their compatriots, Zondi and his men will cop more than their share of the flak.

For now, we wait for South Africa’s first match – against Sri Lanka at the Oval in London on June 3.


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