The announcement of the squad was always going to be controversial, and such a small squad can be limiting. There was a promise made by Mr Majola that at least seven players will be players of colour, transformation players who are picked because of their skin not their ability. Until the quota systems disappear, one can still assume that players of colour aren't chosen primarily on their talents. However there are certain players selected of colour that are there on merit.
The squad selected comprises of: Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis (vice-captain), Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher (wicketkeeper), AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Roger Telemachus.
This is the same squad chosen to play against Pakistan, and if any players should count themselves lucky, in my opinion it would be Loots Bosman, Justin Kemp and Robin Peterson. The players that I think were very unlucky to make the squad are: Morne van Wyk, Alfonso Thomas, JP Duminy and Johan van der Wath.
I really like Bosman, I think he is an exceptional talent and a man that can murder the opposition in the first 15 overs. However, South Africa haven't given him a fair chance. He came into the side primarily as a pinch hitter – someone whose job is to score 100 of 60 balls. His chances came when Smith was in a slump and was out a few times before Bosman faced a ball, and Kallis followed soon after in one of the matches. Despite instructions, there are few team players that can be in a situation where the team is 2 wickets down with 5 runs on the board and think ok I will play risky cricket now.
Bosman was subsequently dropped from the starting XI after the Indian ODI's but recalled to the side to play in the Pro20 against Pakistan, where he opened the innings and massacred the poor Pakistani's, which set a tone for the ODI's. Bosman was recalled for the 1 st ODI but slotted in at 3, allowing De Villiers in very indifferent form to open. Another slap in the face for the "Hammer" after showing what he is capable of opening the selectors then slot him in at 3!! The result of Smith and De Villiers opening was a massive 139 partnership, and De Villiers found some form effectively ensuring Bosman got the chop after failing to get many runs. Bosman is a nomad in the side, I have no idea what his role is or where he is supposed to bat and sadly think he is also lacking clarity.
Justin Kemp's selection over Van der Wath clearly indicates that our all-rounder policy is that we want a batsman that can bowl, rather than a bowler who can bat. An interesting decision as Van der Wath is good with the bat, and aside from Kemp's beautiful 100* against India he has been dismissed cheaply and often to soft dismissals. I am not sure if I would leave him out my squad, but certainly he would not be automatic choice in the starting 15.
Robin Peterson's selection baffles me almost all the time. One must assume that either the captain and Robin don't see eye to eye, or that Smithers has no faith in him. Whenever he gets selected, there is no guarantee that he will bowl and whilst he is handy with the bat and as a fielder, we either need to ensure he bowls his 10 overs or not play him at all. There is no point in selecting a bowler you have little or no faith in, nor Smithy bowling himself when a specialist spinner has been chosen.
The unlucky players have all done exceptionally well this season – aside from JP Duminy who according to the experts is struggling and lacking form, even though he scored 164 last weekend in the Supersport series, averaged 35 in the 45 over format – including 3 50's in 10 innings, and was only not once so his average is not over inflated like Klusener who might have had a 77 aberage but that was only because he was not out 6 times!!! JP Duminy is a rare talent and should be exposed to the international scene as much as possible. Speaking of talents, Vaughn van Jaarsveld is someone to watch, and Arno Jacobs is the big fish that has never been caught.
All in all it is a well balanced side, there is continuity in the selections and it is a side which can bring back the cup, especially as Kallis has rediscovered his bowling ability and Smith has found some sort of form.