Morkel, Maharaj in South Africa squad for champions trophy

Morne Morkel made his international comeback in South Africa’s Test series against New Zealand in March © AFP

South Africa have recalled fast bowler Morne Morkel and included the uncapped spinner Keshav Maharaj in their squad for the Champions Trophy. There was, however, no place for Dale Steyn, who will continue his recovery from injury with South Africa A, or Vernon Philander.

South Africa ODI squad
Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Keshav Maharaj, Dwaine Pretorius, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel

AB de Villiers is fit to captain, despite injuries disrupting his participation at the IPL, while South Africa found room for a quartet of bowling allrounders in Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius. Dane Paterson and Tabraiz Shamsi were the squad members to miss out from South Africa’s tour to New Zealand in February.

Morkel has not played an ODI since June 2016 but made an encouraging return from the back injury that had threatened his career during the Tests against New Zealand, taking 11 wickets at 26.72 during the three matches. He will provide added experience in a squad that will rely on Kagiso Rabada as the attack spearhead.

Maharaj has won his maiden ODI call up, edging out left-arm wristspinner Shamsi as support for Imran Tahir, after impressing with the Test side. He was the series leading wicket-taker, with 15, in New Zealand, which included match figures of 8 for 87 to set up victory in Wellington.

“We have been working with this group of players for the last two seasons where our key emphasis has been consitency in selection,” CSA convener of selector, Linda Zondi, said. “That has shown in how this group has performed over the last while, which has resulted in winning three consecutive ODI series.

“We feel we have a squad that covers every scenario that we could possibly be faced with on the tour. Most importantly, every player knows and understands their role and value within the squad.

“Keshav has had an exceptional debut season for the Test side and his inclusion in the squad gives us a spinner with a different skills and extra batting depth. We have seen how important it is to bat deep in ODI cricket, this option will give us that cover if needed.”

South Africa’s tour of England will begin in May, with three ODIs leading into the Champions Trophy. They are currently the No. 1-ranked one-day side, having won 3-2 in New Zealand, and have the top-ranked batsman and bowler in de Villiers and Tahir.

During the tour of New Zealand they equaled their record for consecutive ODI victories (12), having whitewashed Australia and Sri Lanka 5-0 in successive home series. They will arrive in England as one of the form teams – although their only success in global limited-overs competitions remains the 1998 ICC Knockout (a precursor to the Champions Trophy).


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