Smuts rewarded with T20 call-up, as SA rest senior players
WORKLOAD management allied to prioritising the 50-over format, was at the forefront of the national selectors’ thinking as they announced a 13-man squad for the first two T20 internationals against Sri Lanka, which contained six new caps.
A number of familiar names were left out of the squad including regular captain Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Kagiso Rabada and JP Duminy. In Du Plessis’ absence, the selectors have handed the captaincy for the first two matches of the three-game series to Farhaan Behardien, while six others will make their first appearances for the Proteas in the shortest format.
JJ Smuts of the Warriors has been rewarded for an outstanding domestic season which saw him top the run-scoring charts in the T20 Challenge.
Mangaliso Mosehle will take the wicket-keeping duties, Theunis de Bruyn will be a candidate for a berth in the top order, Andile Phehlukwayo gets to continue his development after a stunning start to his ODI career against Australia, while Lungi Ngidi of the Titans and Dane Paterson from the Cape Cobras will be among the seambowling options.
In addition, the selectors have supplemented for the absence of the regular faces by including an experienced campaigner in the shape of Heino Kuhn, who played the last of his five T20s in 2011, while regulars like David Miller, Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso will lend Behardien a hand with the leadership.
“We have decided to rest some of our key senior players for this series,” said convenor of selectors, Linda Zondi.
“This is the last chance we have to do this as the ODI series (against Sri Lanka) that follows is an important part of our build-up to the ICC Champions Trophy in England in the middle of the year.
“Those senior players who are involved in the Indian Premier League will be playing non-stop from now until the end of August with the tours coming up to New Zealand and England in addition to the ICC event.”
Zondi also said that Morne Morkel and AB de Villiers, who are scheduled to play domestic cricket in the coming weeks could be considered for the third T20.
The three-match series starts at SuperSport Park on 20 January, with the second match at the Wanderers two days later. The final match of the series will be played at Newlands on 25 January.
Proteas T20 squad v Sri Lanka: Farhaan Behardien (capt), Theunis de Bruyn, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Heino Kuhn, David Miller, Mangaliso Mosehle, Lungi Ngidi, Wayne Parnell, Dane Paterson, Aaron Phangiso, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts.
MAN IF CHARGE: Farhaan Behardien will skipper the Proteas in the first two T20s against Sri Lanka.