SA T20 squad for Pakistan series aren't rookies, says David Miller
JOHANNESBURG – At a time when turning on the lights is proving to be extremely difficult for the country’s power utility, the Proteas are hoping some lesser known players will grab the spotlight in a World Cup year.
A South African team devoid of household names, starts a three game T20 series against Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore Thursday.
Not surprisingly given the outcome of the Test series, the absence of big names in the SA team, and the fact that Pakistan have in their ranks the no.2 ranked batsman in T20 Internationals, Babar Azam, the home side go into the series as favourites.
“We will be put under pressure, but it’s a great opportunity for guys to step up,” said David Miller, the most experienced member of the Proteas squad.
“We discussed it a lot this week, we are here to win. We are representing the Proteas regardless of whether you’re playing your first game or your hundredth.”
Miller, who’s played 68 T20 Internationals, did point out that the squad isn’t made up of rookies fresh out of school. He, Dwaine Pretorius and Andile Phehlukwayo have been to World Cups while Reeza Hendricks, Junior Dala, JJ Smuts and Pite van Biljon have each played for a decade or more.
“A lot of guys have been around the block, 10 years plus. Cricket is played the same at all different levels, it’s just the intensity is raised several notches in the international game. Everything is faster, but the game remains the same,” said Miller.
He is the only member of the squad with experience of playing in Pakistan, after travelling there as part of a World XI in 2017 that played three T20 matches in Lahore. That series was ostensibly to show that it was safe to tour Pakistan again following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009. South Africa became the third team to play Tests in Pakistan since travel there was allowed again.
As the Test players found, the low bounce demands adjustments from the players, but again it isn’t something that will be completely foreign to the South Africans with the likes of Smuts, Glenton Stuurman and Lutho Sipamla having started their cricket in similar conditions in the Eastern Cape.
For Miller, the series comes at a crucial point in his career, with questions persisting over his value to the Proteas in the limited overs formats. He’s played just three matches in the last five months. “I definitely feel mentally fresh,” he chirped.
“I want to step up as a senior player on and off the field. I'm secure in my role and in what I want to do, which brings calmness and clarity to the squad and to players that haven't been on the international circuit. It can give them reassurance in their role and am looking to help out with youngsters off the field," Miller explained.
"And then on the field, it’s about performance. You need to stick up your hand and perform when the team requires you to. We all need to perform as players but it helps when senior players perform."
Thursday’s match starts at 3pm SA time.
South Africa: Heinrich Klaasen (capt), Nandre Burger, Okuhle Cele, Junior Dala, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, George Linde, Janneman Malan, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Ryan Rickleton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Pite van Biljon, Glenton Stuurman, Jacques Snyman.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt, Asif Ali, Danish Aziz, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Qadir, Zafar Gohar, Zahid Mehmood, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed.