Linda Zondi, the Proteas’ convener of selectors, batted away criticism over the selection of Khaya Zondo for the one-day squad fairly solidly on Thursday.
The Dolphins skipper has notably replaced Farhaan Behardien.
The problem though is that the numbers in this regard don’t seem to stack up.
Zondo averages 44 in this season’s domestic One-day Cup but only has a highest score of 46 and scores his runs at a lowly 65 per 100 balls.
In contrast, Behardien has made 364 runs at an average of 52, a strike rate of 92 and four half-centuries.
But the stats aren’t quite relevant.
“It’s important to be clear where we are. We’ve started our so-called Vision 2019, our build-up to the World Cup,” said Zondi.
“There are players who’ve performed in franchise cricket for four years now and made their mark at Proteas level. We know what they give us. It’s now important to increase that pool so that when we move on to the end of the year, we aren’t in doubt anymore about whether we should give a chance to certain players or not. We need to determine and eliminate which players could be part of our World Cup squad.”
And that’s where Zondo comes in.
The 27-year-old was included in the 0ne-day squad for 2015’s tour to India but was controversially not picked when injuries struck and South Africa rather opted to play a replacement in Dean Elgar.
“Khaya has been on our radar for the past two years. We need to determine to where he can fit in,” said Zondi.
“He’s a middle-order player and he’s got all-round skills we like. He can rotate the strike but he’s also capable of clearing the rope. He’s shown potential as a South Africa ‘A’ captain. If we don’t pick him, we’ll never know if he’s good enough for international cricket.”
Communication with Behardien has been clear throughout.
“He knows. Every player knows this squad is only for three games and that there will be rotation. Farhaan is part and parcel of the setup,” said Zondi.
Proteas ODI squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Khaya Zondo.