Both South Africa and Australia will be looking to prepare for the ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images
Port Elizabeth: Mar 7, 2014
South Africa and Australia will be aiming to hone their Twenty20 International skills when they start a three-match series at St George’s Park on Sunday.
Coming after a high-intensity Test series, a succession of 20-overs games would not normally have much more than entertainment value, but for both teams it provides an opportunity to prepare for the ICC World T20 2014, which starts in Bangladesh a week after the last match of the series.
Both squads show considerable changes from the Test teams, with new captains and new players in key roles.
With fast bowling spearhead Mitchell Johnson withdrawn to enable him to rest ahead of the world event, Australia’s squad includes only three players who appeared in the Test series.
Nine of South Africa’s 16-man squad played in the Tests but Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock and Wayne Parnell only appeared in one Test each, while fast bowler Dale Steyn will miss at least the first two matches after suffering a hamstring strain during the third Test.
Abbott is not part of the World T20 squad but was called up as cover for Steyn.
There are injury concerns over two other fast bowlers, Parnell and newcomer Beuran Hendricks, who will both have fitness tests ahead of the first match after suffering recent injuries.
It is a particularly important period for South African T20I captain Faf du Plessis.
Following the retirement of Graeme Smith, du Plessis and former schoolmate AB de Villiers, the One-Day International (ODI) captain, are the two leading candidates to take over the Test leadership.
The South African squad includes short-game specialists such as hard-hitting left-handed batsman David Miller and all-rounder Albie Morkel, who returns to international action after a two-year absence.
Australia will be captained by batsman George Bailey, who was dropped from the Test team after playing in all five Ashes 2013-14 Tests against England earlier in the summer.
The tourists have a strong line-up of quick-scoring batsmen, including opener Aaron Finch, who hit a world T20I record score of 156 against England in 2013.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Australia: George Bailey (c), Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wk), Moises Henriques, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
March 9: Port Elizabeth (Day)
March 12: Durban (Day-Night)
March 14: Centurion (Day-Night)