World cup bliss for Dolphins star

2009-05-04 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s selectors went for form and versatility when naming the 15-man Proteas squad to participate in the Twenty20 World Cup in England next month.

“Form in the Standard Bank Pro20 domestic competition was a key factor in our selection process and it was encouraging to note how high the standard of our domestic cricket is at the moment,” selection chief Mike Procter said yesterday.

“Our cricket is entering an exciting period,”he added.

“We are top of the ODI rankings, but have never won a major trophy and this presents the opportunity to do so in a limited overs format.”

For Dolphins’ paceman Yusuf Abdulla, the announcement capped what has been a fairytale month.

“I’m very excited to be going, and also at the prospect at playing in such a major event,” the Dundee product told The Witness last night.

Abdulla’s form in the ongoing IPL tournament was crucial to his selection, and he admitted that he was having a lot of fun.

“I am hugely grateful for the chance the Punjab management gave me, and it has played a role in my national selection obviously.”

Indeed, the left-armer has shot up in importance for Yuvraj Singh’s franchise, going from local back-up to match-winner, and claiming the Purple Cap for heading the wicket charts in the Indian competition.

The early summer conditions in England should also play into Abdulla’s hands, should he be given the chance to play.

“I have always heard of the helpful conditions over there, and I can’t wait to try it out for myself,” he added.

The IPL has also rejuvenated Jacques Kallis, with his cavalier approach for the Bangalore Challengers seeing the burly all-rounder back in the Proteas picture.

The squad of 15 is littered with all-rounders — a priceless commodity in the abbreviated format — and the conditions in England will be a determining factor in who plays.

Counting the dual roles of AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher, the Proteas can realistically claim to housing at least 10 all-rounders, with as many as four spinning options should the need arise.

“I am delighted with the squad the selectors have given me,” commented national coach Mickey Arthur. “It is a team with plenty of options, great depth to the batting and plenty of bowling options. It is also an outstanding fielding unit.”

The sheer volume of cricket for some of Arthur’s players may become a worry, with the likes of Kallis and De Villiers having played virtually non-stop this year.

But the chance of finally securing some silverware will surely push thoughts of fatigue to one side.

In the lottery of Twenty20 cricket, South Africa’s talent-laden squad has as good a chance as anyone else to win it.

The squad will gather for a training camp at the end of the month.

Proteas’ Standard Bank Pro20 International squad:

Graeme Smith (Nashua Cape Cobras, capt), Johan Botha (Chevrolet Warriors, vice-capt), Yusuf Abdulla (Nashua Dolphins), Mark Boucher (Chevrolet Warriors), AB de Villiers (Nashua Titans), JP Duminy (Nashua Cape Cobras), Herschelle Gibbs (Nashua Cape Cobras), Jacques Kallis (Chevrolet Warriors), Albie Morkel (Nashua Titans), Morne Morkel (Nashua Titans), Justin Ontong (Nashua Cape Cobras), Wayne Parnell (Chevrolet Warriors), Robbie Peterson (Nashua Cape Cobras), Dale Steyn (Nashua Titans), Roelof van der Merwe (Nashua Titans).

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