Cricket

Amla, Markram, Duminy return for last two ODIs against Sri Lanka


Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla will return to South Africa’s squad for the remaining ODIs against Sri Lanka, while JP Duminy is also in line to play his first international cricket for four-and-a-half months as South Africa look to put the finishing touches to their squad ahead of the World Cup.

Weight of runs has forced Markram back into contention after he was left out of the first three games, with his outstanding recent form including back-to-back centuries that have helped propel Titans to the top spot on the Momentum One-Day Cup table.

Reeza Hendricks and Wiaan Mulder are the two players from the original squad who will sit the next two games out, with the group growing from 14 to 15 for the ODIs in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Captain Faf du Plessis welcomed the return of experienced hands Amla and Duminy, who has made a successful comeback for Cape Cobras after being out of action following shoulder surgery.

“We’ve spoken about the balance we’d like, and when you add JP to that you only need five overs from him and your allrounder,” du Plessis explained. “It’s a real good balance that he brings to the table. Obviously, his experience is amazing. The most important thing from JP’s point of view is that he got over his injury. So it’s great that he got runs, but that was the concern from us, just from the leadership group that he goes and plays two games, gets back into cricket. Because we know when he’s back what he brings to the team from a performance point of view. So good that he comes back into the next two games with some nice form.

“The main concern for me with all the players is that you need make sure you put performances on the board to go to the World Cup”

FAF DU PLESSIS

“We know what Hash has got,” du Plessis added. “Hash has played a lot of cricket for South Africa. He’s got an amazing record. But we needed to make sure Reeza got an opportunity this series. If Hash gets another opportunity coming back into the side, hopefully he grabs that with both hands.

“The main concern for me with all the players is that you need make sure you put performances on the board to go to the World Cup. It’s about our best and most in-form team that’s going. Everyone in the dressing room knows that, and I believe it’s making us want to raise the bar on our own performance.”

Du Plessis’ sentiments were echoed by national selection panel convener Linda Zondi. “Experience is always a key factor in major tournaments such as the ICC Men’s World Cup,” he said. “It is great to see how well JP has regained his best form after being out of action for so long.

“What has also been highly encouraging is see how well the Proteas have played when they have returned to franchise cricket. It is important that they should dominate at this level and that their skills should rub off on our emerging talent. JP, Aiden and Dwaine Pretorius have all made significant contributions to their franchises in recent matches. “We will use the final two matches in the ODI series to continue to examine all the options that are available to us as far as the World Cup squad is concerned.”

Du Plessis added that Dale Steyn, who has been a part of the one-day squad for the series but is yet to play a match, is understanding of the need to field test new players such as fast bowler Anrich Nortje.

“Dale understands. Anrich needs to play some games. That is a position that’s still needs to be selected. As far as Dale in concerned, he’s going to the World Cup. So we need to make sure who is our next fast bowler, and if we want to take a next fast bowler,” du Plessis said.

“So we want to give Anrich as much opportunity as possible. He’ll definitely get another opportunity out of the next game, and then hopefully Dale in one of the other games.”

Du Plessis denied that Steyn’s absence had anything to do with managing the paceman’s workload to keep him fresh for the World Cup. “No, because he’s not going to play a lot of cricket,” the captain explained. “He’s not going to the IPL. So for now his workload can continue, he can keep bowling in the nets. There was a thought of releasing him to go and play in the Titans, but the Titans are playing well and the balance of their side is probably going to stay the same, so we thought best just to keep training with us. He will get one game out of the next two.”



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