Steyn back for Proteas for T20s against England
JOHANNESBURG – While there is no AB de Villiers in the South African T20 squad for the series against England, the presence of Dale Steyn gives an indication that Cricket SA will be looking at experience for the World T20 that takes place in Australia later this year.
Steyn is the most significant presence in a squad that contains two uncapped players in Pite van Biljon and Sisanda Magala. The other critical decision involves Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada, who were initially set to play in the three match series that starts in East London on Wednesday, but who’ve been granted extra time to rest.
Both Rabada and Du Plessis have carried a very heavy workload in the last two years. For the Rabada it impacted negatively on his performances at the World Cup last year, while for Du Plessis the extra burden he took on in the wake of the administrative meltdown at Cricket SA seemed to affect his batting and leadership during the recent Test series with England.
The 36 year old Steyn, last played for the Proteas in March 2019, and had his World Cup ended by injury without bowling a ball. Last August he retired from Test cricket, but still availed himself for both white ball formats, with this series against England being his first international assignment.
Steyn has been to Australia representing the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash and his presence adds huge experience to an otherwise rookie attack.
Negotiations with De Villiers are still on-going. Last month, Cricket SA’s interim Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, described talks with De Villiers as being informal, after De Villiers had publicly stated he was open to representing the Proteas at the World T20 later this year.
Meanwhile Van Biljon’s many years of hard work have been rewarded with a call-up. The 33 year old made a double hundred for the Knights in the Four-Day Series earlier this season, and followed that with some excellent performances for the Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League, where as a ‘finisher’ he notched up 192 runs at a useful strike-rate of 139.13. In last year’s tournament playing for the Jozi Stars Van Biljon, his strike was 196, although opportunities to bat were fewer in that powerful line-up.
Van Biljon is an intelligent cricketer an element Proteas head coach Mark Boucher would have noticed while working with him in this year’s MSL. ““With a T20 World Cup not too far away, we have begun the process of identifying several players whom we will be looking at over a period of time and hope that by the time September comes along, we will have the best possible squad of 15 representing South Africa,” Smith said.
Magala’s presence is subject to him undergoing a fitness test before the first match.
The squad will again be captained by Quinton de Kock.
Quinton de Kock (captain), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen.
T20 Schedule for series vs England:
1st T20I - East London, Wed, Feb 12
2nd T20I - Durban, Fri, Feb 14
3rd T20I - Centurion, Sun, Feb 16