With less than 12 months to go until the T20 World Cup, the national selectors should aim to finalise the strongest possible Proteas team against England, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The Proteas failed to win any of the T20I series against England and Australia last summer during a lot of experimenting with the limited- overs teams.
But, with Cricket South Africa’s appointment of new convenor of selectors, Victor Mpitsang, about a month ago, his first real task will be to settle the best group of players in the format to take the Proteas to India next year.
The recent IPL proved that South Africa has more than enough firepower to compete with the strongest teams in the world and, combined with a batch of exciting young talents, the biggest challenge against England will be to determine the best combinations.
Temba Bavuma emerged as a new prospect at the top of the order, alongside Quinton de Kock, during the series against England earlier this year, while the likes of Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje certainly put their hands up in the bowling department.
The return to form by Faf du Plessis is also definitely positive for the Proteas but, with a lot of middle-order options to choose from, Mark Boucher and the selectors could be looking at one or two more experiments when the T20I series against England gets under way on Friday.
Unfortunately, the AB de Villiers situation doesn’t really help in that regard. It would have been the perfect opportunity for him to return to international cricket, given it’s less than a year out from the World Cup and that the Proteas won’t play a great deal of T20 cricket in the lead-up to the competition.
The three T20Is against England will also give Mpitsang and his team a good idea of where the Proteas are in their quest of building a formidable team. The likes of Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan and Jason Roy will provide the Proteas with a firm challenge in both the batting and bowling departments.
With the Proteas possibly travelling to Pakistan in January for a Test and T20 series, the best scenario would be to go to the subcontinent with the best team already confirmed. This will also be an opportunity to give the best group of players the chance to fine-tune their preparations in similar conditions to India.