Kagiso Rabada is back in South Africa's white-ball squads after missing their last ODI assignment against India, with a groin strain. Seamer Glenton Stuurman, who received his first international call-up, and Junior Dala, who has not played for South Africa since March 2019, were also included in the 24-man squad for the upcoming three T20Is and three ODIs against England.
The six-match series will be the first international cricket played in South Africa in almost eight months since the home summer concluded with white-ball cricket against Australia. All the players who were involved in limited-overs matches against Australia at home and those who were part of the squad that went to India have been picked in this squad, apart from one big name: Dale Steyn.
Steyn, 37, retired from Test cricket last August and despite playing three matches for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the ongoing IPL, was unavailable for selection for the upcoming series. Given that Steyn was not awarded a national contract in March and is omitted from this squad, there are signs that his international career has ended even though he had previously indicated that he hoped to feature in the T20 World Cup.
That tournament was postponed by a year, and South Africa's planning for the 2021 tournament in India is set to begin now. "This is an important season for the team, with an ICC T20 World Cup coming up late next year in India," Graeme Smith, director of cricket, said." I'm sure that the T20 series, in particular, is going to boast some explosive performances for cricket fans to enjoy at home."
With slower subcontinental surfaces in mind, the bowlers in this squad included a strong complement of spinners, led by Tabraiz Shamsi who will compete for a spot in the starting XI with a quartet of left-arm spinners: Keshav Maharaj, George Linde, Bjorn Fortuin and allrounder Jon-Jon Smuts.
Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje, who have all been in action at the IPL, will lead the pace attack that also included Dala, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks and Stuurman. All but Stuurman and Sipamla returned to action this week in the domestic first-class competition. Stuurman was forced to withdraw from the Warriors squad after being among four players who were in direct contact with two other players that tested positive for Covid19 while Sipamla is nursing an injury. Sisanda Magala, who was in South Africa's white-ball plans last summer but faced fitness challenges, has not found a place in this squad.
All the members of the batting group have been in action recently, including Faf du Plessis, who averaged over 40 for the Chennai Super Kings at the IPL. Du Plessis will travel to Pakistan for the PSL playoffs and is expected to return to South Africa by no later than November 18, giving him around 10 days at home before the England series starts. The series will kick off with the first T20I at the Newlands on November 27.
Du Plessis will play the role of senior batsman, after stepping away from the captaincy last summer, with Quinton de Kock, currently the fifth-highest run-scorer in IPL 2020, leading the side in white-ball formats. South Africa have given themselves plenty of options for who will open with de Kock with Temba Bavuma, Janneman Malan and Reeza Hendricks all in the squad. That has left no room for Aiden Markram, who has not played white-ball cricket for South Africa since the 2019 World Cup.
David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen and Rassie van der Dussen make up an experienced middle order while Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius are the two allrounders in the squad. Chris Morris, who has played nine matches for RCB and has sustained a quad injury ahead of the Eliminator, is also not part of the South Africa squad. Like Markram, Morris last played for South Africa at the 2019 World Cup and like Steyn, he does not have a national contract.
This was the first squad picked by new convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang, who started work on Monday. His next task is to mull over who will take over as Test captain, with South Africa set to return to the longest format against Sri Lanka over the festive season.