South Africa news December 3, 2014

Tsotsobe in contention for World Cup spot

Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who occupied top spot in the ODI bowling rankings from February 2012 to May 2013 but has not played for South Africa since March, is in contention for a World Cup spot after being named in the 30-man preliminary squad. Tsotsobe has fully recovered from ankle surgery which kept him out the winter tours to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and is currently the leading wicket-taker in the domestic one-day cup.

"He has definitely got the numbers and it will be nice for him to get to the World Cup," Geoffrey Toyana, Tsotsobe's coach at Lions, told ESPNcricinfo. "He is the leader of our attack and he has made sure he contributes to the development of the younger guys."

Since making his comeback from injury, Tsotsobe has taken 29 wickets across all formats at an average of 22.79. He has been particularly impressive in the fifty-over game, where his 12 scalps from six matches have come at 18.08.

Tsotsobe was left out of the South Africa ODI squad that toured New Zealand and Australia recently because the selectors wanted to see if he had regained match fitness and form following his injury. Andrew Hudson, the convener of selectors, said at the time that Tsotsobe would be considered for the upcoming West Indies series and it appears likely he will feature in that contest. Tsotsobe has been included in a South African squad that will play the national rugby team in an exhibition match on Saturday.

But whether Tsotsobe makes the final 15 will depend on how many bowlers South Africa take to the World Cup. Their first-choice attack includes Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and a reserve seamer, which is likely to be either Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott or Ryan McLaren. All six of those names are in the 30-man preliminary squad. Also included are Mthokozisi Shezi, Marchant de Lange, Kagiso Rabada, Rory Kleinveldt and David Wiese, which suggests there will be a fair amount of experimentation during the West Indies series to decide on the final pack.

The selectors have given themselves less choice in the spin department which they limited to Imran Tahir, Aaron Phangiso and Robin Peterson, and even less than that batting-wise, where a host of familiar names make up the preliminary squad. The only notable outside contenders are the three veterans Andrew Puttick, Morne van Wyk and Justin Ontong. Puttick and van Wyk occupy the top two positions on the one-day cup run charts, while Ontong is a long-serving captain of the South Africa A team as well as his franchise, the Cobras.

Van Wyk was a member of the 2011 World Cup squad, where he played as a reserve wicket-keeper when AB de Villiers' chronic back problem flared up but, with Quinton de Kock now a regular member of the team, he is unlikely to be needed in that capacity again.

There are several injury concerns spread among the preliminary squad with JP Duminy the most notable. His knee injury kept him out of the recent ODI series in Australia but is expected to make a comeback in the second Test against West Indies. Cobras' left-armer Beuran Hendricks has not played since developing a stress fracture in August, but should return to action this month. So too should Aaron Phangiso, who missed the Australia series with a finger injury. All 30 are expected to be fit and ready come the World Cup.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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