CAPE TOWN – It’s D-Day for veteran Hashim Amla when the Proteas selectors announce their squad for the World Cup today.
The 36-year-old has represented South Africa in 174 ODIs to date and with a batting average of almost 50, it is unthinkable to not have him in the squad based on his career stats.
But Amla has not been the same lately and could watch the global showpiece from the comfort of his home, while his teammates try to break South Africa’s duck at the tournament in England at the end of next month.
The case for Amla is that he is perhaps unfairly judged.
His form in ODI cricket doesn’t make for bad reading. In the ODI matches he’s played in 2019, Amla averages 49.75.
He accumulated 214 runs in those five matches against Pakistan, including an unbeaten 108 at St George’s Park in January.
Amla, though, didn’t play in the series against Sri Lanka to be at his ill father’s bedside.
And after struggling in the Test series against Sri Lanka – averaging 12.75 in four innings – Amla recently returned to T20 action for the Cape Cobras. It was seen as a last-ditch bid to convince the selectors that he should be part of the World Cup squad. But he failed to make an impression with scores of 16, 2, 7, 32 and 4.
Those innings underlined his slump in form.
But will the selectors judge him on his form in Test and T20 cricket, or will they look at his ODI form and trust that he is mentally strong to bounce back in the 50-over game?
The man pushing Amla for a spot in the team is Reeza Hendricks, who has been in superb form in the 20-over game, but only averages 27 in the 18 ODIs played to date for the national team.
Good luck to convenor of selectors Linda Zondi, coach Ottis Gibson and the rest of the selectors making this decision.