South Africa kept faith in Hashim Amla and gambled on Aiden Markram as both made the Cricket World Cup squad on Thursday.
There were doubts over the inclusion of 36-year-old Amla after a dip in form and his absence for recent games because his father was ill. Fellow batsman Markram was seemingly out of the reckoning for the one-day team until a run of outstanding domestic form led to a public clamor to include the 24-year-old opener.
This year will likely be the last chance for veterans Amla, Faf du Plessis, who captains the team, and Dale Steyn to win the World Cup. JP Duminy and Imran Tahir have already said they will retire from ODIs after the tournament. Those five will be playing at their third World Cup.
The most noticeable absentees are batsman Reeza Hendricks and allrounder Chris Morris.
Instead of the young Hendricks, a regular this past season, South Africa stuck with Amla, who last played an ODI in late January. He still averages nearly 50 in one-dayers.
Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius were given the allrounder slots ahead of Morris.
Fast bowler Anrich Nortje made the cut with just four ODIs of experience and after making his debut last month.
Nortje’s chance came after Duanne Olivier made the surprise decision to give up international cricket with South Africa in favor of a contract in English county cricket.
Nortje will be part of a strong pace attack that also includes Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi.
Quinton de Kock is the only specialist wicketkeeper and the team will rely on David Miller to step in behind the stumps if de Kock misses any game time.
South Africa has won its last five ODI series but has a history of near-misses at the World Cup dating back to its debut in 1992. The Proteas have made the semifinals four times in seven tournaments.
South Africa plays host and top-ranked ODI team England in the World Cup’s opening game on May 30.
Squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Rassie van der Dussen.