Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) National Selection Panel on Wednesday named the 15-man Proteas squad to compete at the ICC World Twenty20 to be played in India next month. Rilee Rossouw and David Wiese, who missed the India series through injury, return to the squad, as does Aaron Phangiso who has been preferred to Eddie Leie as the second specialist spin bowling option. Dale Steyn also makes a return to the squad, although his inclusion is subject to his being passed fit.
Steyn was rested for the Proteas’ previous T20 assignment away to India and injury has prevented him from playing much international cricket since then. The 15-man squad will also do duty in the upcoming T20 International Series to be played against England and Australia during the course of the next four weeks. CSA selection convener Linda Zondi says: ‘We have a lot of experience in this group with 10 of the players having played in the last World Twenty20 in 2014, also on the sub-continent. The inclusion of Aaron means that we have all our spin bowling options covered with he, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy offering the different varieties. Left-arm spin bowlers tend to play big roles under Indian conditions. Dale’s return is very good news. He brings tremendous experience and leadership to the team, not to mention his skills as the outstanding fast bowler of his generation.’
Proteas coach, Russell Domingo, says the upcoming series against England and Australia will be a good opportunity for the squad to fine-tune their preparation ahead of the tournament: ‘We take some confidence from our T20 series wins against Bangladesh and India and kept relatively the same players who have had success on the sub-continent. We have been playing good T20 cricket of late and this is our opportunity to showcase our skills at a World event. The upcoming T20 series’ against England and Australia will be the ideal platform for us to fine-tune some combinations and to hopefully gain some winning confidence ahead of the tournament next month. We are in a tough group in the tournament with England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and a qualifier. All of the top six teams on the world rankings have the skill and ability to lift the trophy so it’s a completely open competition with high stakes.’
Proteas T20 captain, Faf Du Plessis, says the squad is motivated and hungry to do well in the competition: ‘The ICC World T20 is the competition that we have been working towards over the last 18 months. We have had disappointments in the past and this year is another great opportunity for us to lift that elusive ICC trophy. We have been playing together as a squad for some time now and are really hungry and motivated to put in the performances to bring us success. I’m really excited about the group of players who will be representing the country and hope we can make everyone proud.’
Proteas T20 squad: Faf Du Plessis (Titans, capt), Kyle Abbott (Dolphins), Hashim Amla (Cape Cobras), Farhaan Behardien (Titans), Quinton De Kock (Titans), AB De Villiers (Titans), JP Duminy (Cape Cobras), Imran Tahir (Dolphins), David Miller (Dolphins), Chris Morris (Titans), Aaron Phangiso (Highveld Lions), Kagiso Rabada (Highveld Lions), Rilee Rossouw (Knights), Dale Steyn (Cape Cobras), David Wiese (Titans)