Picking a Cricket World Cup squad shouldn’t be rushed

One would hope that the South African World Cup squad window is not shut just yet.

For the sake of the Momentum One-Day Cup and the players who will go into it desperate to impress, one would hope there is still something for them to play for, beyond the trophy.

There has been talk around the need to pick players who are in form, and not merely players who have been around the squad for a while. Certainly, there is merit to that kind of thinking.

A case in point has been the form of Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram. They were both considered strong chances for the World Cup squad, but they have lost touch and, supposedly, favour at the worst possible time. In the case of Markram, he has watched Reeza Hendricks and then Rassie van der Dussen slip past him in the national consciousness.

Both Lions players have peaked at the right time for selection, but the World Cup is still three months away. Both Hendricks and Van der Dussen were picked on the form that they displayed in the Mzansi Super League. It was too much to ignore, and the fact that they went on and won the tournament with the Jozi Stars only served as an exclamation to their credentials. Right place, right time.

On the flip side, a guy like Chris Morris has somehow slipped completely out of the ODI reckoning. It almost appears to be a gut feel thing with Morris because it was only two years ago that he was considered the man capable of taking South Africa all the way, with bat or ball. The Million-Dollar Man, they called him.

Quite what happened there we will never know, but his fall out of favour has been rapid and ruthless.

It is a similar story for Vernon Philander, who has been simply typecast out of any consideration.

Given the huge question marks that have revolved around the No 7 position, it is a bit galling that a man who played in a World Cup semi-final has not had a look-in since then.

Others may stubbornly disagree, but Philander has a lot of the attributes required to do a job in England. His bowling speaks for itself, while his batting has consistently delivered more than any other of the rivals to the coveted all-rounder position.

Morris might look at that and say at least Philander has a World Cup memory to look back on. The Titans all-rounder now appears set to go through his career having never visited the ultimate stage.

Given some of the passengers that South African cricket has taken to the summit, that is also a travesty of significant proportion. Timing, they say, is everything. If, as some people seem to think, the World Cup window has already shut, then those who are picked in contentious positions will have to answer the questions the selectors didn’t ask themselves when they chose not to cast the net far and wide.

If it was a shootout, then some guns were not allowed to even stock up on ammunition.

There is also the question of whether or not South Africa will employ the services of two wrist-spinners in the UK. The last World Cup saw Aaron Phangiso play the sum total of bugger all, but he was supposedly taken to the tournament as a viable option.

The 2019 squad cannot afford to take players who will be dead wood. There are enough match winners across the country to build a formidable squad. Sentiment also can’t be a criteria when the squad is picked. Too often in the past, players who were actually past their best were taken along, for one last hurrah.

One would like to think that the current panel of wise men is not swayed by emotions. They, like most of South Africa, want to equip themselves with the best chance to finally get over the line in a World Cup. And if that means they have to dip into the domestic stocks, on the strength of performances in the domestic 50-over competition, you would hope they would do just that. It’s not as if they have to name the squad this very instant.


Sunday Tribune

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