Hashim Amla. Picture: REUTERS/JAMES OATWAY
Hashim Amla. Picture: REUTERS/JAMES OATWAY

Experience and the attacking nature of the Proteas since coach Ottis Gibson took over swayed the selectors in picking Hashim Amla in SA’s Cricket World Cup-bound squad.

There were doubts whether Amla would make the cut but the selectors put all that to bed when the 36-year-old veteran of 7‚910 ODI runs from 171 innings was included in the 15-man squad.

Amla’s form of late does not inspire confidence but his selection was always going to be as close to automatic as it should be‚ given his intimidating record in the ODI format.

“For us I think when you look at the type of philosophy and the type of [positive] game coach Ottis Gibson came with‚ it is a very confident kind of a format he brought into the team‚” said Cricket SA chief of selectors Linda Zondi.

“So you have to have experience. You don’t want to be 17/5. You need someone who is going to be there and who is going to consolidate the innings and Amla has done that for years for SA.”

Zondi said most teams at the World Cup will deploy two spinners and it helped that Amla is SA’s best player of the turning ball.

Not many disapproved of Amla’s inclusion for obvious reasons. But there were question marks around who between 24-year-old Aiden Markram and Reeza Hendricks, 29,  should be picked for the opening backup batsman spot.

Markram‚ a long shot for World Cup selection until the turn of the year‚ cracked the nod ahead of Hendricks‚ who himself also remained in the reckoning until the announcement.

Should it have been Markram or Hendricks?

“I will touch on Markram and Reeza as well,” said Zondi

“Both players when you look at the [Cricket SA] vision 2019‚ which started in September 2018 till now‚ when you look at Reeza he averages about 24 and also looking at him in terms of Australia [tour] he also averaged about 27 or so and we looked at him against Pakistan where he had a good knock.

“I think he averages about 41 and then you look at his last stats against Sri Lanka he averaged about 10‚” said Zondi.

The chief of selectors said that Markram was helped by his versatility with the bat. Markram can bat in different positions, while Hendricks is mostly at home as an opener.

“If you look at Markram he is capable of batting at 1‚2‚3‚4 up to 6‚” said Zondi. “I mean he averages 108 or so, compared to Reeza who averages 86 or so.

“Yes, one can look at other things like the fielding and everything else as a package. Reeza when you look at him on the field, yes he does add value, but you are not going to pick a player just because he is a good fielder and same goes for Markram. We went with Markram because he can bat from 1 to 6. Hashim can be the bedrock.”