“South Africa’s challenge is going to come with the bat and you have to consistently score enough runs in those English conditions to be successful.
“You can’t just replace AB de Villiers, so Hashim Amla must play every game and the Proteas have to hope he comes right if they are to have any chance of winning the World Cup.”
So said Lance Klusener, the Player of the Tournament the last time the World Cup was held in England, in 1999, speaking to The Citizen.
South Africa will announce their 15-man squad today and whether Amla will be included or not remains one of the biggest conundrums.
It will all boil down to whether the selectors give more weight to his pedigree and experience than to his recent struggles for runs.
For Klusener, who played with Amla at the Dolphins in the early stages of his career, there is no doubt the 36-year-old batsman must be selected.
“Hashim has obviously been struggling a bit lately, but you have to take that punt and hope that he plays better at the World Cup. Although it gave me more opportunity, ultimately we did not score enough runs in 1999.
“If we can do that then we’ll be competitive because our attack is good. I don’t think there’ll be any surprises – they’ve been trying to find a dibbly-dobbler who can bat a bit in the middle and Dwaine Pretorius fits the bill there and they’ll choose Tabraiz Shamsi as the second spinner instead of Keshav Maharaj,” Klusener said.
Titans coach Mark Boucher, who also went to the 1999 World Cup and shared crucial partnerships with Klusener to beat England and Pakistan, said players who suited recent English conditions and were match-winners had to be chosen.
“I don’t want to talk about individual players because some of my guys are involved, but I think there will be one or two surprises and there are always disappointed players. A lot of people have been given chances recently – some haven’t taken them and some have. People talk about English conditions, but you have to go on what has happened in the past. Up front the ball might swing a bit, but later in the tournament, once the pitches get old, then there’s wear and tear and the spinners come into play. We can’t just thumbsuck and say it’s going to be a wet summer and the ball’s going to swing all the time.
“Our batting will be important, they have to get the guys in the right positions. They must choose players that can win matches, not just make up the numbers.
“We’ve been accused of being too predictable in the past, but this time we can choose guys who are not predictable, I hope they choose those players with the x-factor,” Boucher said.