DURBAN – The Proteas have spent an unusually long time in Australia, for the purposes of three one-day internationals and a T20 fixture.
Indeed, the whole itinerary could have been squeezed into a fortnight, rather than the nearly month long trip that it has been. There has been an awful lot of downtime for the squad, considering what is happening in South Africa.
That being said, it all comes to an end tomorrow, when the Proteas are the guests of honour at the opening of a brand spanking new arena.
If the logic was to ensure a bumper Saturday night crowd, with the opponents being Australia’s most earnest foes over the years then, perhaps, there is method to the procrastination madness. And yet, both nations may have learnt an awful lot more from scheduling a couple more 50-over internationals over this last week of the tour, rather than the candy floss of a T20 international - even to a new audience.
Their short, but feisty ODI series was just starting to bubble over when David Miller and Faf du Plessis killed matters off as a contest.
Had there been still two more fixtures to be played, Australia might have bounced back again. With it being World Cup season, no one would have been a loser in that event. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Quinton De Kock and his T20 charges brushed up what preparation they needed for tomorrow with an easy win over a Cricket Australia XI on Wednesday.
There were runs for Aiden Markram (45), Heinrich Klaasen (41), Reeza Hendricks (39) and an important finishing cameo by Farhaan Behardien, in his first taste of action on the trip. In that sense, then, this last leg of the trip is important for those players to make a case for selection down the road.
Miller and Du Plessis were rested, while Dale Steyn is already back home, in Mzansi gear.
The first international match at the Metricon Stadium is important for Australia, and South Africa have done the sort of thing a good friend would do - and agreed to it.
It ought to be a giggle for those who come to watch, and the players will get a free hit before heading home to a bounty of T20 fare.
The squads are:
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (Captain), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn.
Australia: Aaron Finch (Captain), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Chris Lynn, Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa@whamzam17
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