Proteas spin kingpin Tabraiz Shamsi has waved away any concerns of complacency as the team prepare to face Australia before the World Cup.
The Aussies face the Proteas in three T20 International starting tomorrow, with all three games at Kingsmead in Durban , before both teams tour the country for the five-match one-day international leg.
With a few of their usual ‘big guns’ given a break for the upcoming games, suggestions of prioritising the ODI World Cup have surfaced with a few new faces introduced to the national team set-up.
The global spectacle will take place in India from October 5.
Shamsi, 33, revealed that both contests will take equal significance, while expressing a great desire to clinch a win against one of their biggest rivals.
“I think both are important (this tour and the World Cup). Obviously, we can’t look past the World Cup. That’s a big prize this year but the T20 series we’re going to play now is not irrelevant at all,” he said.
“If you look at the guys that have been brought into the squad, those are brilliant players and we are in no way weakening our squad. That’s the amount of depth we have.
“Even those guys are capable of winning games for us, so just because there are new guys coming into the squad, it doesn’t mean we’re not trying to win the series.”
The absence of experienced campaigners like Quinton De Kock, Heinrich Klaasen and Rilee Rossouw has opened an opportunity for ‘young guns’ like Dewald Brevis (20), Matthew Breetzke (24) and Donovan Ferreira (25).
Australia will also grant SA fans an opportunity to welcome back leftarm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who has been out injured since March.
The 33-year-old ruptured his Achilles tendon against the West Indies during the Test series and looked set to miss this year’s World Cup. He has, however, fought his way back into the conversation just in time to be considered.
Maharaj is the third-best T20 bowler in the country, behind Anrich Nortjie and Shamsi, and is in the top 20 in the world.
Shamsi praised Maharaj, who could play a big role in India, for his incredible work behind closed doors and his determination to get himself back into the fold.
“Keshav is a big player for the team and we’ve seen over the years he’s worked so hard to get into the Proteas set-up and the performances he’s put in and that’s a testament to the hard work he puts in,” he said.
“His injury was very bad and it generally takes about eight to nine months to recover from, so he’s put in so much hard work behind the scenes to speed up his recovery.”