CAPE TOWN – Andile Phehlukwayo may only be 22 years old, but in this Proteas T20 squad selected for the Zimbabwe series starting at Buffalo Park this evening, the Dolphins all-rounder is one of the older heads on display.
Over the past two years, Phehlukwayo has played 50 matches for his country across the three formats already, and will in fact need to guide some of the greenhorns.
As part of ‘Vision 2019’, national convenor of selectors Linda Zondi continues to cast his net far and wide in white-ball cricket, with Gihahn Cloete and Rassie van der Dussen from the Warriors and Highveld Lions expected to debut in the series.
Cloete was the second leading run-scorer in the One-Day Cup last season with 546 runs at an average of 54.60, and would relish an opportunity at his home ground.
Equally, Van der Dussen has been a consistent performer for a number of years on the domestic circuit, also smashing 432 runs at 48.00 in last year’s 50-over competition.
The tall right-hander, though, has enjoyed some ‘international’ experience while playing for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League and for Vancouver Knights on the Canadian Global T20 League.
“The camp is in really good state at the moment. The boys are training really hard. It doesn’t matter about the opposition, the preparation doesn’t change in our changeroom.
“The culture is always the same. Different ball-game now, you have to execute your skills under pressure in T20 cricket,” Phehlukwayo said at Buffalo Park on Monday.
“There are a lot of guys who are new. Looking at their domestic performances, they are deserving of their caps.
“There is also the balance between the newbies and the guys who have a bit of experience. Gihahn is an exciting batter, Rassie has done well overseas.
“I think the depth within the South African system is really good. Every guy has put in performances at domestic level and earned their spots.”
Apart from the youngsters, there are some more experienced players who would be keen to leave their mark on the series after missing the 3-0 ODI whitewash.
Quinton de Kock and David Miller are back in the mix, and with the latter particularly enduring a lean run in Sri Lanka, they will be eager to show Zondi and Co that there’s no need to look further than the incumbents.
Phehlukwayo also believes playing the shortest format is good preparation for the tougher ODI challenges to come this summer, regardless of the fact that Zimbabwe are not expected to pose much of a threat across the three matches.
“For me, the motivation is the white-ball format itself. T20 cricket helps with the small skills, small fundamentals, hitting the ball into gaps, enhances your level, and the skills that you can use,” he said.
“It is about consistency, sticking to the brand of cricket we play. We want to be really positive. It doesn’t matter the opposition.”
Proteas T20 squad
Faf du Plessis (captain), Gihahn Cloete, Junior Dala, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Robbie Frylinck, Imran Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
Start: 6pm. TV: SS2, SABC3. Radio: Radio 2000.@ZaahierAdams