Several new faces in Proteas inexperienced side for T20s against Pakistan
Okuhle Cele‚ Ryan Rickleton‚ Nandre Burger and Jacques Snyman received their first call-ups to the Proteas national team on Tuesday after they were included in the T20 squad that will face Pakistan in a three-match series next month.
Heinrich Klaasen will lead the Proteas for the first time after he was named the captain of the largely inexperienced 18-man squad that will be thrown into the deep end against one of the deadliest teams in T20 cricket.
The battle will take place in Lahore from February 11 to 14.
However‚ the Proteas will field a weakened side after team management decided that the majority of the established Test players would return home following the completion of the upcoming two-match series in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith and convenor of national selectors Victor Mpitsang said the strategy is part of management’s measures to navigate the Covid-19 overseas travel quarantine obligations ahead of Australia’s arrival for a crucial three-match test series in April.
Smith said the move is an example of the measures that some cricket nations will have to put in place to ensure that they squeeze more than one tour in a period of three or four months while fulfilling Covid-19 responsibilities.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has compelled sporting bodies to find innovative ways of ensuring tours and sporting events take place as planned or with as little disruption to revised plans as possible‚” said Smith.
“We are not exempt from that‚ and have had to do a bit of outside-of-the-box thinking to ensure that we are fully prepared for a home Test tour against Australia‚ while having an exciting T20 series to compete in‚ in Pakistan.”
Chief selector Mpitsang said given that it is a T20 World Cup year‚ to be staged in India in September‚ the Proteas team management included several new faces as they widen the pool from which to pick from.
“A lot will be said about the inexperience of this team‚ but the selection panel and I believe we have a special group of players in this team that will do us proud in Pakistan‚” said Mpitsang.
It will be a baptism of fire for a youthful team made up of players who have never been to Pakistan before but Mpitsang is confident the depleted squad will still do well.
“We are excited to see what these youngsters will do under what won’t be the easiest of conditions‚ but more than that‚ we as a panel‚ are looking forward to seeing the more experienced players step up as leaders and take ownership of the team‚” said Mpitsang.
Andile Phehlukwayo‚ Reeza Hendricks and JonJon Smuts will offer the required experience that the predominantly youthful squad will require to excel in the Lahore.
Glenton Stuurman returns to the Proteas after an injury forced him out of the Test squad ahead of the second match against Sri Lanka.
Dwaine Pretorius‚ Tabraiz Shamsi‚ Lutho Sipamla and George Linde‚ who are members of the Test squad‚ will remain in Pakistan for the T20 series.
Proteas T20 Squad to Pakistan is as follows:
Heinrich Klaasen (captain‚ Momentum Multiply Titans)‚ Nandre Burger (Six Gun Grill Cape Cobras)‚ Okuhle Cele (Momentum Multiply Titans)‚ Junior Dala (Momentum Multiply Titans)‚ Bjorn Fortuin (Imperial Lions)‚ Reeza Hendricks (Imperial Lions)‚ George Linde (Six Gun Grill Cape Cobras)‚ Janneman Malan (Six Gun Grill Cape Cobras)‚ David Miller (Hollywoodbets Dolphins)‚ Andile Phehlukwayo (Hollywoodbets Dolphins)‚ Dwaine Pretorius (Imperial Lions)‚ Ryan Rickleton (Imperial Lions)‚ Tabraiz Shamsi (Momentum Multiply Titans)‚ Lutho Sipamla (Imperial Lions)‚ Jon-Jon Smuts (Warriors)‚ Pite van Biljon (VKB Knights)‚ Glenton Stuurman (Warriors)‚ Jacques Snyman (VKB Knights).