For some, the announcement of the ICC Cricket World Cup squads rivals the actual tournament in terms sheer excitement and the wait for the unknown. The months leading up to the tournament sees members of the public and media making educated guesses as to what they believe the make-up of the squad will finally be.
For the South African public and media, the squad announcement for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 left very little by way of guesswork. The Proteas coaching staff and selection panel have been meticulously moulding and tweaking the squad for the past four years and have shown great selection consistency since Russell Domingo took over as Head Coach in May 2013. This consistency has not only been limited to the selection of the One-Day International squads, but also in that the Test and ODI squads mirror each other to a certain extent.
Prior to the squad announcement, the only real areas of uncertainty were around the reserve batsmen and whether or not the selectors would opt for the inclusion of an extra all-rounder or extra seam bowler.
Rilee Rossouw retains his place in the squad as an extra batsman and may be expected to open the innings in the event that Quinton de Kock is still unfit for the opening fixtures. While Farhaan Behardien’s evolution into an all-rounder will continue as he would look to take over the mantle at No. 7 in the batting line-up and share the fifth-bowler duties with JP Duminy.
I feel the major selection poser would be whether to entrust and Duminy with ten overs between them or to sacrifice some batting depth and have Wayne Parnell in the No. 7 slot in order to minimise the risk. Much of this decision will depend on the type of surface they encounter and the selections may be horses for courses.
One of the challenges the selectors faced was that they were choosing one squad for two very different sets of conditions. The Proteas will play three pool games in New Zealand and have a potential quarter-final and semi-final there as well. The wickets in New Zealand are traditionally lower and slower than the faster-paced tracks of Australia. This is something the selectors would have taken into account when deciding on the final make-up of the squad and when looking ahead to that of their starting eleven.