Proteas in Sri Lanka, day 15

It’s important to set goals and have something to look forward to each day in the bio-bubble and today it was the announcement of T20 World Cup squads, not just South Africa’s but several more around the world. New Zealand beat the ICC deadline by two weeks with their squad release (forced by extreme travel complications) and Pakistan, too, beat the finishing gun by three days.

I was amused by some hopes of an extremely late call-up for Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris – maybe even Imran Tahir – and I appreciate the correspondence from several readers. No matter how strongly I replied with ‘no chance’, some people refused to give up on their hopes. One reader even suggested that AB de Villiers might be a shock inclusion. There was more chance of my name being announced. Or yours, J.

Keshav Maharaj was included in the squad having never played a T20 International. A surprise in some respects, not in others. He is the most consistent multi-format spinner in South Africa whereas Tabraiz Shamsi is the most likely to win games – and, perchance, have a bad day. But not bad enough to lose a game. Maharaj is a sensible selection, and he’s able to hit boundaries – provided the bowlers are kind enough to bowl in his arc.

George Linde is preposterously unlucky to be omitted. Having played the majority of the last year in white-ball cricket, and consistently displayed his value with ball and bat, he will accompany the squad as a travelling reserve. Dwaine Pretorius and Wiaan Mulder are the chosen, seam-bowling all rounders with Andile Phehlukwayo another travelling reserve.

The decision to omit Janneman Malan was taken many weeks ago, so the roaring start to his ODI career – three 100s and two 50s in his first eight innings – is irrelevant. 

No ‘stand-by’ batsman was announced in the event that Temba Bavuma’s recovery from his broken thumb doesn’t go according to plan, but injury replacements are permitted. “I have already started my rehab processes after the operation and I’m told it will take approximately four weeks to recover, so I should have plenty of time to be fit for the first game,” Bavuma said. South Africa face Australia in the opening game on October 3. 

In Colombo, meanwhile, there were concerns about the well being of the Proteas at the start of their 7:00pm practice session at the Premadhasa Stadium, just three kilometres from our hotel. Was it on fire? Maybe a huge braai gone wrong? It looked alarming. Until we were reminded that large venues in the subcontinent need to be regularly fumigated to control the infestation of roaches and other…bugs. 

A day which threatened to drag intolerably was happily broken by another two hours of walking on the roof, officially confirmed to be within our bubble. (There’s nobody else up there.) A two-hour podcast was fascinating. Good to learn something new every day. At the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, six members of the CIA’s 50,000 employees spoke Arabic.      

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