The ICC Champions Trophy will be the next big tournament after the IPL, and already, teams have begun preparing for it. South Africa are one of the teams that have announced their lineup for the tournament, scheduled on June 3rd. The squad will first play three ODI matches against England on May 24th, before hitting the big stage.
Indian origin player Keshav Maharaj earns his first call into the Proteas side along with the likes of Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock – wicketkeeper, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers – captain, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorius, Farhaan Behardien and Morne Morkel. Linda Zondi, the convener of selectors, is confident that they have selected the best squad with all the combinations and conditions in mind.
“We have been working with this group of players for the last two seasons where our key emphasis has been consistency in selection,” said Zondi. “That has shown in how this group has performed over the last while, which has resulted in winning three consecutive ODI series. We feel we have a squad that covers every scenario that we could possibly be faced with on the tour. Most importantly, every player knows and understands their role and value within the squad. Keshav has had an exceptional debut season for the Test side and his inclusion in the squad gives us a spinner with a different skills and extra batting depth. We have seen how important it is to bat deep in ODI cricket, this option will give us that cover if needed.”
Maharaj’s inclusion not only eases the stress on Imran Tahir, but also provides the Proteas with some options in the spin department. Another notable addition is the return of Morne Morkel after a 10-month break due to a back injury. Meanwhile, Dale Steyn has been left out of the team because he is still recovering from a shoulder surgery. Vernon Philander will also be absent from the team after sustaining a groin injury. South Africa’s first pre-Champions Trophy match is against Sussex on 19th May.