DURBAN – The South Africa ‘A’ side that will meet touring Australia in a three-day warm-up match in Benoni from today is one that has plenty to prove.
Hopefuls, outsiders, newcomers and future prospects will do their utmost to give Steve Smith’s men the sincerest of challenges.
Led by Khaya Zondo, the next batch of hopeful Proteas will line up against the formidable Aussies hoping to expose weaknesses.
The four-Test series between South Africa and the tourists starts next Thursday in Durban, so this is the Australians’ only opportunity for match practice ahead of what is expected to be a terrific scrap against the Proteas.
At his disposal Zondo has some of the most in-form batsmen in the franchise system.
Knights skipper Theunis de Bruyn was considered unlucky by many when he missed out on selection for the third Test against India, and he remains a player who is very close to the Test side.
“We have a good side, a lot of guys who have done well in the franchise system. We are all looking forward to playing against some of the best players in the world and showing what we can do at this level,” Zondo enthused.
Also in fine form is Pieter Malan of the Cobras, whose three centuries in the Sunfoil Series have kept the Cape side competitive.
The promising Zubayr Hamza is another Cobras player in the mix, while the Knights also have quick bowler Duanne Olivier and keeper/bat Rudi Second. Both are experienced, and played key roles in the Knights winning the four-day title last season.
There is also a return to serious action for young Wiaan Mulder, the batting all-rounder from the Lions who's been earmarked as a future Test player.
Mulder will be able to get a gauge of where he is in his development as a cricketer as he meets a potent line-up.
Spinner Shaun von Berg has also been rewarded for fine work for the Titans over the past few seasons, and his abrasive nature with the ball will meet like-minded men from Down Under.
While Australia build towards a massive Test series, the SA selectors will keep a keen eye on proceedings at Willowmoore Park.
While their Test squad is largely settled, a stand-out performance from the ‘A’ side may stay in the mind, especially given the length of the series.
South Africa 'A' squad: Khaya Zondo (Dolphins, capt), Theunis de Bruyn (Knights), Zubayr Hamza (Cobras), Beuran Hendricks (Lions), Pieter Malan (Cobras), Wiaan Mulder (Lions), Senuran Muthusamy (Dolphins), Duanne Olivier (Knights), Rudi Second (Knights), Malusi Siboto (Titans), Shaun von Berg (Titans)