Se­lec­tor opts for Hamza

‘When he played for SA A, he dom­i­nated, says con­venor Zondi

Daily Dispatch - - Sport - KHANY­ISO TSH­WAKU

Proteas na­tional con­venor of se­lec­tors Linda Zondi said the es­tab­lish­ment of a vi­able suc­ces­sion plan in­formed his de­ci­sion to pick Cape Co­bras young­ster Zubayr Hamza in the Test squad for the Pak­istan se­ries.

Zondi’s term as se­lec­tion con­venor ends af­ter next year’s World Cup and be­cause it is in its sec­ond term‚ he won’t be able to con­tinue to serve in the ca­pac­ity‚ from where he said it’s im­por­tant that he leaves the squad in bet­ter shape to cope with the re­tire­ments that will change the shape of the Test team.

Zondi may be onto some­thing as Faf du Plessis (34) and Hashim Amla (35) are ex­pected to call time on their ca­reers at some junc­ture af­ter the World Cup. The same is ex­pected of Ver­non Phi­lan­der (33) and Dale Steyn (35) af­ter the World Cup but Zondi has al­ready put plans in place to fill these gaps.

“I can’t be leav­ing the Proteas with­out a suc­ces­sion plan and you don’t want peo­ple to worry about po­si­tions be­ing filled when se­nior play­ers re­tire‚” Zondi said.

“I was a se­lec­tor when we lost big play­ers to re­tire­ment and I be­lieve as a leader you need to leave the or­gan­i­sa­tion in a bet­ter place than that which you found it. With­out a suc­ces­sion plan‚ no in­sti­tu­tion can sur­vive.

“When you look at Hamza‚ the writ­ing’s on the wall in terms of where we’re look­ing. Se­lec­tion isn’t an iso­lated process‚ it’s con­tin­u­ous and if we had to select on statis­tics‚ you can get a statis­ti­cian and select the team. There are play­ers we’ve checked over the past two to three sea­sons and some have blos­somed. Yes there’s been a de­cline in Hamza’s form this sea­son but when he played for South Africa A‚ he dom­i­nated.

“When you look at when he played for SA ‘A’‚ the con­di­tions in In­dia were tough and af­ter the World Cup. That’s where we’re tour­ing.

“If you’re go­ing to wake up af­ter the tour­na­ment‚ then you’ve missed the mark.”

Last sea­son‚ the 23-year-old Hamza was the fourth-high­est run-get­ter with 828 runs at 69‚ with three hun­dreds and four 50s.

When he opened the bat­ting for SA A against Aus­tralia’s crack Test bowl­ing at­tack of Mitchell Starc‚ Josh Ha­zle­wood‚ Pat Cum­mins and Nathan Lyon in Benoni last year‚ he ac­quit­ted him­self well with scores of 44 and 28. This sea­son‚ he’s 20th on the four-day run­scor­ing list with 255 runs at 31.87‚ with two 50s.

Rudi Sec­ond was the top run-scorer for SA A in the two unof­fi­cial Tests against Aus­tralia A but be­ing a wick­et­keeper‚ his path is blocked by Quin­ton de Kock.

Zondi said Hamza has the po­ten­tial of be­ing a very good Test crick­eter but the door isn’t closed on older play­ers who are knock­ing hard on the door.

“He can play in all for­mats but for now we’re look­ing at him from a red-ball cricket per­spec­tive and we’ll see,” Zondi said.

Pic­ture: MOELETSI MABE

PLAN IN PLACE: The Proteas con­venor of se­lec­tors, Linda Zondi, has con­fi­dence that young bats­man Zubayr Hamza, will pros­per in Test cricket.

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