South Africa gamble on De Kock

The all-rounder suffered an ankle ligament tear??during the first Test against West Indies mid-December and was thought to need up to three months out of the game.??

But with six centuries in his first 35 one-day internationals, the 22-year-old is deemed a crucial member of the squad that will head to the??World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next month.

It is testament to the skills of the explosive left-handed opener that the selectors are willing to gamble on him recovering in time to play the team’s later pool games and in the knock-out stages.

World Cup regulations make provision for teams to name injured players and replace them before the tournament, or if they aggravate the injury at the tournament, provided a medical certificate is produced.

There are no major surprises in the squad, although there are two changes from the 15 that were beaten 4-1 in a series in Australia in November.

Left-handed batsman and off-spin bowler JP Duminy and left-arm spin bowler Aaron Phangiso return after missing the November tour because of injury.

All-rounder Ryan McLaren, the side’s leading wicket-taker in both 2013 and 2014, was dropped after a dramatic fall-off in form since suffering a broken arm against Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson in a Test match last season.

Robin Peterson, a veteran of three World Cups who replaced Phangiso in Australia, was also omitted.

South Africa’s challenge will be spearheaded by a strong batting line-up, in which De Villiers and Hashim Amla have outstanding records, while the powerful fast bowling trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander will be complemented by leg-spinner Imran Tahir, who has taken 47 wickets in 27 one-day internationals.

Skipper AB de Villiers??said: “It’s a huge honour. I’m very confident. We know we have to keep our feet on the ground and work hard. It’s a huge tournament which we have never won before and we want to bring it home.”

In contrast to previous South African teams, there is a shortage of top-quality all-rounders.??Duminy is likely to be a key player but batting all-rounder Farhaan Behardien and bowling all-rounder Wayne Parnell are not guaranteed places in the starting line-up.

The South Africa squad will play in a five-match one-day series against the West Indies, starting on January 16 with Morne van Wyk standing in as wicketkeeper in place of De Kock.

South Africa World Cup squad:

AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla (vice-captain), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn