We have all waited a long time for the Proteas to play International Cricket again after their failed World Cup, and their first outing is a 3-match T20 series against India.
Cricket South Africa announced that Quinton de Kock will be taking over the captaincy in the shorter format, with view to test the leadership options ahead of the T20 World Cup next year.
Quinton being named captain is something I am quite pleased with this. He is often guilty of throwing his wicket away after getting into a good position, and I believe that having the captaincy could perhaps benefit him in taking more responsibility in his game.
After Dale Steyn’s retirement in Test Cricket but availability in the shorter format, it was therefore very disappointing that he was not included in the T20 series. Questions raised by CSA acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl on Steyn’s fitness seem confusing when Steyn was scheduled to play in the Euro T20 Slam before it was postponed.
South Africa’s T20 squad is very inexperienced, and a player like Steyn with his wealth of experience & knowledge of playing India, in India, could have been a real asset.
It is firmly my belief that Steyn could have played in place of Kagiso Rabada. CSA need to surely take note of what other boards are doing. New Zealand for instance rested key players Kane Williamson and Trent Boult from their T20 series against Sri Lanka.
South Africa’s main aim in India is to win the Test series and start their World Test Championship with a win. Rabada is an essential player in that series and should have been fully rested ahead of it.
There were a couple of wonderful inclusions to the T20 squad that were pleasing.
Young left arm spinning all-rounder Bjorn Fortuin’s inclusion was richly deserved as he has had a wonderful season for the Lions. His domestic T20 record is superb, as he averages only 18 with the ball, and has taken 65 wickets in his 52 matches.
What is particularly positive about Fortuin is that he has great potential to overtake Tabraiz Shamsi as the limited overs spinner of choice.
Shamsi was a surprise selection given his struggles in the game. There is no doubting his potential, however, he has a lot of improvements to make in his game, in all three disciplines before he should be considered South Africa’s premier spinner in the shorter format.
David Miller’s place in the side needs to be reassessed. For a player of his experience, having played 70 T20Is and 126 ODIs, he has failed to live up to his potential. What is his role in the team? For a senior member, he often shows a lack of responsibility. There are exciting young players like Kyle Verreynne and Sinethemba Qeshile that deserve to be given a chance to impress.
The inclusion of 19-year old Marco Jansen was excellent. He is already in India with the A side, and is gaining valuable experience. He had a promising game in the unofficial first Test against India-A, scoring runs and picking up wickets.
Whilst I am hopeful that South Africa can start their season on a winning note and win the T20 series, I am fully aware that India are an incredibly formidable side when it comes to the shorter format and especially when playing at home.
With such an inexperienced side, Quinton’s role in the team will now be significantly more important, not just as a captain, but as a senior player too.
Come what may, the Proteas must make us proud with the way they play. What was the most disappointing aspect about their World Cup campaign was the lack of intensity and passion in their performances.
If they play with the passion we have come to expect from such a proud nation, that will go a long way in making them a successful team.
The first T20I is on Sunday 15th September, at 15:30 SA time.