Faf du Plessis is still one of our best T20 players, Boucher said at the weekend. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Mark Boucher wants Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada back in the South African team for the T20 international series against Australia that starts next Friday.

Both players were given time off during the ODI series against England, but their absence from the T20 matches - the first of which will be played in East London tomorrow - caught many by surprise.

Du Plessis said after the Test series that he was looking forward to a full-strength SA taking on a full-strength England in the three-match series that for both teams represents a start of their preparations for the T20 World Cup that will be played in Australia in October.

The extended break for both players is understandable given the excessive workload both have had to bear in the last 18 months. Du Plessis is in the early stages of extensive talks about his Proteas future with interim director of cricket Graeme Smith and has stated on a number of occasions that he sees the T20 World Cup as a possible end to his international career.

He needs to get into that squad first however, and in coach Boucher, he seems to have a strong supporter.

“Faf is still one of our best T20 players,” Boucher said at the weekend, “but we feel at this point he needs a break away from the game. These guys (Du Plessis and Rabada) have been on the road and played a lot of cricket and any opportunity for a bit of a rest, we will give them that and keep their minds fresh. Leading up to the (T20) World Cup there is a lot of cricket. I would like to think that by Australia they would have rested enough and can come back and play.”

Besides T20 matches against Australia and England, there is also a three-match ODI series against the former and then three more ODIs in India in March. Du Plessis and Rabada both have IPL contracts and following that tournament, will feature in T20 series in Sri Lanka in June and the West Indies in August.

Cricket SA are understood to want all players - including those with Kolpak contracts interested in playing for the Proteas at the T20 World Cup to avail themselves for selection in the build up to that tournament.

“We as Cricket South Africa are looking to solidify our options for the Proteas T20 World Cup squad from the outbound Sri Lanka tour onwards,” Smith said at the weekend. “We will have about 14 matches in hand between then and the T20 World Cup and we’ll begin working on ensuring we have the right combinations and options going into the tournament.”

Faf du Plessis’ extended break is understandable given the excessive workload he has had to bear in the last 18 months. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Chris Morris and Imran Tahir would most likely feature, and of great interest will be whether the likes of Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott - both on Kolpak contracts at Hampshire - would avail themselves for selection.

The other notable name is of course AB de Villiers, who has already expressed an interest in playing for SA at the T20 World Cup. Smith recently described talks with De Villiers about him returning to the Proteas as being informal at this stage.

@shockerhess

 

The Star

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