Temba Bavuma is expected to recover in time to lead the team at the marquee tournament
Faf du Plessis has not been included in South Africa’s T20 World Cup squad despite being available to play international white-ball cricket. The 37-year old former captain, who retired from Tests in February, specifically named the upcoming global tournament as one of his goals. However, he has not played a white-ball match for South Africa since December last year and has not been part of any their recent squads either.
Similarly, Imran Tahir, who retired from ODIs after the 2019 World Cup but remained available for T20Is, is also not part of the squad. Chris Morris is out as well. The seam-bowling allrounder has not played for South Africa in two years and earlier this year revealed that he had no idea if he had a future with the team.
ESPNcricinfo understands that communication with players who have not been awarded national contracts has been scant. This effectively means South Africa have decided against using free agents in the senior side.
“When you are working with free agents you have to come together,” Graeme Smith, CSA’s director of cricket said. “You have to find the balance that works for the team and the squad and then also the free agents. They are obviously attracted to those leagues and the finances of those leagues and the squad has its own requirements and how they build towards a World Cup.
“With Faf we struggled to find that balance and outside that, Chris made himself unavailable and from there we felt Imran had a great run, he is still being successful but we are confident in the current crop of spinners we are developing and we felt we should give them the opportunity.”
South Africa will take three frontline spinners, Tabraiz Shamsi, Keshav Maharaj and Bjorn Fortuin. Spin-bowling allrounder George Linde travels as a reserve player.
Linde’s omission is perhaps the only surprise, after he featured in the majority of South Africa’s winter fixtures including all five T20Is against West Indies. Fortuin only played one in the Caribbean. Selection convener Victor Mpitsang indicated Linde was unlucky not to be picked in the main XV but South Africa could not load it with any more allrounders. “When it comes to George, he is one of the allrounders. He has done well with the ball but we have gone with the seam-bowling allrounders,” Mpitsang said.
Wiaan Mulder and Dwaine Pretorius, who has not played since fracturing a rib against Pakistan in February this year, have been included as the two allrounders, with Andile Phehlukwayo in reserve. All three are on South Africa’s current tour of Sri Lanka but so far, only Mulder and Phehlukwayo have played with Pretorius expected to make his return in the T20Is, which start tomorrow.
South Africa’s injured white-ball captain Temba Bavuma is expected to recover in time to lead them at the World Cup. Bavuma had surgery on his broken thumb on Sunday. He has started physiotherapy and has been advised a four-week recovery period, which should see him fit by mid-October. “Mentally, that’s what I am working around. That gives me ample time to get ready for the World Cup,” Bavuma said.
Maharaj is leading the T20I team in Bavuma’s absence in Sri Lanka, which contains all but one member of the World Cup squad. Lungi Ngidi missed the ODIs for personal reasons and has gone directly to the UAE to join his IPL team Chennai Super Kings and work on his return-to-play program.
South Africa are also without an assistant coach in Sri Lanka, after Enoch Nkwe’s resignation on the eve of the tour. CSA hoped to appoint a new assistant before the World Cup but will now only confirm the role after the tournament, with short-term consultants to be deployed in the interim.
CSA have yet to get to the bottom of Nkwe’s decision to step down, which cited issues with the team culture and environment. Nkwe has yet to make any public statements but has met with Bavuma on his return from Sri Lanka. “When I was in Sri Lanka I did refer to the fact that I’d like to engage with Enoch and understand his situation better, and the reasons behind him resigning. That time did come, sooner rather than later because of my injury,” Bavuma said. “I met with Enoch and we had a productive conversation. I understand the situation that he finds himself in. He did ask me to pay respect to the fact that he’ll be finding time to engage with the media, and he’d like to be the person who gives you guys clarity and reasons.”
Despite some suggestions that Nkwe was particularly unhappy with head coach Mark Boucher, under whom South Africa’s results have been inconsistent, CSA’s acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki indicated that Boucher has the board’s support. “The whole team, including the coach, has the full backing of CSA, including the board and the members council,” Moseki said. “I would hope they have the backing of South Africans as well because they are going there to represent us as a country. We want the team to do well and the coach is an important component of that.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent