South Africa World Cup squad: Hashim Amla’s form, fast bowler injuries the concern

South Africa will on Thursday (April 18) announce their 15-man squad for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.

The deadline to submit final squads for the World Cup is April 23, and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have announced that they will do so a week before.

The main issue surrounding the make-up of South Africa’s World Cup squad is the form of veteran batsman Hashim Amla, whose place in the ODI team is reportedly in doubt.

Amla, 36, managed to score only 51 runs in four innings in South Africa’s Test series defeat to Sri Lanka earlier this year and did not play in the first three ODIs against the tourists, although CSA stressed he had not been dropped. Amla was due to play the final two ODIs versus Sri Lanka but withdrew because his father was seriously ill.

Amla is South Africa’s fourth-highest run-getter in ODIs with 7910, and his 27 hundreds are a national record. Since the start of 2018, he averages 35.26 in 16 ODI innings, with one century and three fifties. In this time, his strike-rate has been 89.35 which is marginally higher than his career strike-rate. Given his experience, Amla may get the nod for the World Cup.

Hashim Amla World Cup 2019
Hashim Amla has not played an ODI for South Africa since January. © AFP

One man who looks primed to get picked for the tournament – and potentially open the innings instead of Amla – is Aiden Markram.

In 18 ODIs, the 24-year-old averages 29.58 with that 67* being his best score. However, his List A form has been exceptional – 542 runs in five innings at an average of 108.40 and strike-rate of 132.84  – and with a third century to take his domestic team Titans to the Momentum One-Day Cup title last month, Markram may have at last booked his ticket to England.

Markram was recalled to South Africa’s ODI squad last month on the back of his strong Momentum One-Day Cup form and scored 29 and 67 not out against Sri Lanka.

Imran Tahir will head to his final World Cup in form – he is Chennai Super Kings’ leading wicket-taker in the ongoing IPL – but who the second spinner will be remains to be seen. Tabraiz Shamsi looks the front-runner, unless Keshav Maharaj makes a surprise return.

Imran Tahir IPL 2019 Player of the Week
Twice last week Imran Tahir confounded Kolkata Knight Riders. © BCCI

Like Tahir, Dale Steyn will play his final World Cup and with a pace attack also Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, South Africa have a good bowling unit. There are still worries over fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, who were both ruled out of the IPL recently, so if they are not passed fit then Wiaan Mulder looks likely to be named.

JP Duminy, despite his lack of List A runs, should be included. He will retire from ODIs after the World Cup.

From the batting core, one of Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen will likely join skipper Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Amla, Markram and Duminy.

Quinton de Kock will keep wicket, with Miller the backup should it be required.

South Africa likely World Cup squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), David Miller, JP Duminy, Reeza Hendricks, Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Reeza Hendricks, Wiaan Mulder, Andile Phehlulwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Dwaine Pretorius, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi