While still smarting from their humiliating exit from the Tri-Nations ODI series in Barbados, AB de Villiers and other top-level Proteas now turn their attention to Caribbean T20 jamboree.
The spotlight will be firmly on De Villiers, who by his own admission was out of form and negligent in the recent ODI Tri-Nations series. He came to national duty straight from a sterling display in the colours of the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he ended one of the top run-makers.
Now he continues his arduous journey, linking up with Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson and David Wiese under the captaincy of Kieron Pollard at the Barbados Tridents, hoping to go one better than last season’s No 2 position.
The Caribbean season kicks off early Thursday (1 July), and runs until 2 August, when the Proteas rush back to start a Test series against New Zealand, on 19 August. That’s a gruelling schedule in anyone’s books.
At some point, De Villiers will come face to face with Dale Steyn, who arrives refreshed after a useful spell in the England T20 series, at Glamorgan. He was a late replacement there, as he is for the Jamaica Tallawahs; but having been omitted from the ODI squad, he is in good form. He snapped up 11 wickets in 18.3 overs with a best of 4-18 for Glamorgan.
Spare a thought for Faf du Plessis, the Proteas T20 captain who has been tasked with raising the profile of St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, last season’s bottom-feeders. He leads a side which has spent big, and can at least ‘praat die taal’ with the rising leg-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and Eastern Province’s JJ Smuts, a genuine all-rounder bowling left-arm spin.
Hashim Amla, who was another late call-up to the IPL, continues his belated association with commercial T20 alongside Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum, and Darren Bravo at the renamed Trinbago Knight Riders, last year’s champions who were then named Red Steel.
Morne Morkel, who spent much of the IPL on the bench, joins up with David Miller, who will be looking to redeem himself after a nightmare season with Kings XI Punjab. They come under the captaincy of Darren Sammy at St Lucia Zouks.
Barbados Tridents (Last season: Runners-up): Kieron Pollard (capt), AB de Villiers, Shoaib Malik, Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder, Ravi Rampaul, David Wiese, Robin Peterson, Raymon Reifer, Ashley Nurse, Wayne Parnell, Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Kyle Hope, Navin Stewart, Kyle Corbin, Steven Taylor, Shamar Springer.
Trinbago Knight Riders (Last season: Winners): Dwayne Bravo (capt), Brendon McCullum, Darren Bravo, Sunil Narine, Hashim Amla, Umar Akmal, Kevon Cooper, Sulieman Benn, Colin Munro, Anton Devcich, Ronsford Beaton, Nikita Miller, Javon Searles, William Perkins, Yannick Cariah, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Hamza Tariq, Anderson Phillip
St Lucia Zouks (Last season: Fifth): Darren Sammy (capt), David Miller, Shane Watson, Michael Hussey, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Morne Morkel, Denesh Ramdin, Derone Davis, Grant Elliott, Kristopher Ramsaran, Shane Shillingford, Delorn Johnson, Kyle Mayers, Keddy Lesporis, Nitish Kumar, Gidron Pope
Jamaica Tallawahs (Last season: Semi-final): Chris Gayle (capt), Kumar Sangakkara, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Imad Wasim, Dale Steyn, Rovman Powell, Chadwick Walton, Jon-Russ Jaggesar, Andre McCarthy, Jonathan Foo, Alex Ross, Kesrick Williams, Nkrumah Bonner, Garey Mathurin, Timroy Allen, O’Shane Thomas
St Kitts & Nevis Patriots (Last season: Bottom of group): Faf du Plessis (capt), Lendl Simmons, Samuel Badree, Carlos Brathwaite, Brad Hodge, Thisara Perera, Jonathan Carter, Krishmar Santokie, Evin Lewis, Tabraiz Shamsi, Kieran Powell, JJ Smuts, Devon Thomas, Shamarh Brooks, Tino Best, Jeremiah Louis, Nikhil Dutta, Alzarri Joseph
Guyana Amazon Warriors (Last season: Semi-final): Martin Guptill (capt), Sohail Tanvir, Dwayne Smith, Chris Lynn, Devendra Bishoo, Rayad Emrit, Adam Zampa, Jason Mohammed, Christopher Barnwell, Veerasammy Permaul, Orlando Peters, Assad Fudadin, Anthony Bramble, Paul Wintz, Steven Jacobs, Steven Katwaroo, Ali Khan, Shimron Hetmyer