Selector opts for Hamza in Test squad

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

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 run-scoring 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...

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