The Proteas face England in the first of three T20Is on Wednesday evening, in East London. With the T20 World Cup coming later this year, both teams will be looking to find their best playing XIs in this series.
It is a relatively inexperienced squad for the home side to choose from. South Africa will rely on the experienced heads of captain, Quinton de Kock and the returning Dale Steyn to lead the way in the batting and bowling departments.
de Kock has been named the captain of the T20 series, following on from his successful captaincy in the T20 series in India late last year, which the Proteas tied 1-1. As previously stated, the captaincy has added responsibility to de Kock’s game and as such, makes him a key player for the home side.
The return of Dale Steyn was met with excitement and joy. Playing for the first time in close to a year, Steyn will hopefully be itching to get out on the field against his old foes. As he demonstrated in the second edition of the Mzansi Super League last year, picking up 15 wickets at the phenomenal average of 15.13 and a decent economy of 7 runs an over, T20 still has a place for an experienced campaigner, and that will be vital to South Africa’s efforts in this T20 series.
While I am happy to see Steyn back, it is disappointing from my perspective that Janneman Milan misses out on T20 selection this time around. Given how successful he and de Kock batted together in the MSL last year, it seems that this is a partnership that needs to be nurtured and allowed the time to grow. It is my hope that given the chance to shine in the Momentum One Day cup, he will be included in the Proteas squad for the tour by the Australians later this month.
Kyle Verreynne is another that I feel should have been in the T20 squad. A fine young stroke maker and a genuine wicket-keeper, he seems the ideal candidate to, one day, take over the gloves from de Kock. With a view to look ahead to the T20 World cup, and the 2023 ODI World Cup, 22-year old Verreynne seems a worthy candidate.
England possess a much stronger T20 squad then they had in the ODIs and importantly, the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are back in the squad. What a difference to a team they make.
Ben Stokes is the best all-rounder in world cricket at present, and whether he has the ball or bat in hand, he makes things happen. If he has a good match, England will too.
Buttler, since taking over the opening spot in T20s, has an average of 47 and a strike rate of 154. Buttler is destructive at the best of times, however, an area where South Africa could look to target is his performance against spin, especially early in his innings, where he averages just 33 compared to the 70 he averages against pace.
Bjorn Fortuin has experience of being used as an opening bowler and could very well find himself used in this role for the T20s against England. Fortuin is an exciting young spinning all-rounder who has a bright future ahead.
Lungi Ngidi struggled in the ODI series, both with consistency and fitness. After coming back from a lengthy injury, perhaps it is beneficial for him to go back to domestic cricket and gain match practice before coming back to the national side.
After being included in the ODI and T20 squads to face England, Sisanda Magala was subsequently withdrawn from the ODI squad, having not met fitness requirements. It is understood he has failed to meet these requirements ahead of the first T20 against England, and as such will not be considered for selection. To that end, Dwaine Pretorius gets the nod for me. A tidy bowler with the ability to surprise batsmen, a destructive lower order batsman and full of heart, he deserves to play.
There have only been two T20Is played at Buffalo Park, with an average 1st innings score of 163. With both teams possessing dynamic and electric opening batsmen, in Quinton de Kock and Jos Buttler, both teams will be looking to get off to an exciting start, especially with the small ground that is on offer.
With no rain forecast, get ready to buckle up, because it’s sure to be an exciting evening of cricket!
The first T20 kicks off at 6pm, with the toss at 5:30pm.
My playing XI for the first T20
Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JJ Smuts, Andile Phehlykwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn & Tabraiz Shamsi