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Cricket | South Africa

JP Duminy © Gallo Images

Depth in batting is key - Kirsten

South Africa have selected eight batsmen in a 15-man squad that will challenge seven other teams for the ICC Champions Trophy in England, starting on 6 June in Cardiff.

"We felt in order to do well in this tournament, we needed depth in our batting and have options in our batting," coach Gary Kirsten told reporters at the squad announcement at Sahara Park Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday.

"The important thing in selecting this team is continuity. Through that continuity, there is some good experience in the team. We feel that guys have had some game time at international level that will help them cope with the demands of a tournament of this nature," said Kirsten.

"We have also looked to have some flair in the team, and that could be important. That is why we have gone with eight batsmen, giving us combinations and options within our batting department," added the former ICC World Cup-winning coach.

A surprise ommission from the squad is the experienced Jacques Kallis, who ruled himself out of the tournament due to personal reasons, but, on the up side, JP Duminy returns to the squad after spending six months out of the game due to an Achilles injury he picked up against Australia last November.

"JP is a key component of the team because he offers us something with the ball as well. While I am not trying to put too much pressure on him considering how serious his injury has been, I think he has progressed well," said Kirsten.

A tag that has hung heavy around the Proteas neck has been one of 'chokers'. The South African cricket team has, on many occasions, strolled through the group stages, only to crack and fall in the knockout stages at ICC events.

"It is probably the most asked question and at some point we have to cross the line, but you guys (media) could certainly do us a favour not to talk too much about it and then we could actually just get on with doing as best we can," joked Kirsten.

But many will be hoping that Kirsten and Paddy Upton will be able to share their knowledge they gathered from leading India to World Cup success.

"Well, this is a different setup with different systems, but I believe in this team and I feel they have what it takes to step up. They do not have any baggage or scarring that previous teams have had," said Kirsten.


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