Even though South Africa demolished the top-ranked Australian side during the first two ODIs of the ongoing home series, the omission of veteran Hashim Amla from the second match raised quite a few eyebrows. With the controversial quota system coming into effect, stand-in skipper Faf du Plessis has denied his role in the decision and instead attributed it to the selectors.
Faf insisted, “The selectors made that decision. They wanted to keep the same team (from the opening game). Obviously for me Hash (Amla) is one of the best players in the world, but they felt that was the case. There’s nothing that I can do about that. Hashim averages 52 (51.97) in one-day cricket, so for me, you can never replace that. And if you miss one game for the flu, then it’s always the respect that you’re given to come back into the team.”
He added, “So if it was my decision, I would definitely bring him back and the same with the coach. But, the selectors felt the combination at the top was working really well. So, I suppose you can look at it from that point of view as well. But, it wasn’t my decision.”
Following the birth of his third child, Amla missed the first ODI due to an illness. Despite being declared fit to take part in the second match in Johannesburg, the 33-year old was surprisingly overlooked in order to persist with the pairing of Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw. The latter scored an 81-ball 75 with his partnership alongside du Plessis leading the Proteas to a daunting total.
However, Amla’s exclusion was questioned by quite a few former South African players. Pertinently, CSA had set transformation targets of fielding a minimum average of six coloured members of which at least two must be from the black community. The new structure started from the one-off ODI against Ireland last month and the calculations regarding the team composition will be calculated on average throughout every season.
As a result of allocating slots based on ethnicity, the selection process has been further complicated for the South Africans. Amla falls under the coloured category who had representation through the likes of Imran Tahir, JP Duminy and Farhaan Behardien. Due to the injuries to AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel, there could be a tussle for spots with the Champions Trophy not too far away.
Admitting that the two victories against the Aussies were a confidence boost, Du Plessis felt, “We sat down about two months ago and we addressed a lot of shortcomings in our team and where we were falling short. So, I’m extremely proud of how the guys have responded since that. Our form has been really good. And it’s without the two best players in the world. So, it shows that there is a future without AB de Villiers.”
“Hopefully we can have him back and Hashim Amla. But, it shows that there’s a lot of talent in South African cricket and we play well as a team. I’m hoping those guys get back with us pretty soon because we do miss them. They’re incredible players but it’s great to see the guys putting up their hand.”
With the third ODI against Australia scheduled to take place on Wednesday in Durban, the Proteas will be hoping to seal the series by putting in another dominant performance.