South Africa and Australia begin their three-match Twenty20 series at St. George's Park on Sunday. For both teams, it's more than just a bolt-on series at the end of a tour, it's the final push to the World T20 beginning in Bangladesh later this month.
What: South Africa vs. Australia, 1st T20
Venue: St George's Park, Port Elizabeth
When: Sunday, 9 March 2014
Start time: 12:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. local time
Live on: SuperSport 2, South Africa; Sky Sports, U.K.
It's "all change, please" as cricket starts to look like the last underground station in South Africa, with a captain change, venue change and a format change. The two sides will contest a three-match T20 series which might not mean much in terms of overall results but matters as teams start their build-up towards the World T20.
South Africa, as ESPNCricinfo summarises, are without the services of Dale Steyn for the first and most likely the second match. Steyn sustained a hamstring injury during the third and final Test and will not recover in time to take part.
Wayne Parnell and the uncapped Beuran Hendricks will undergo late fitness tests to determine their readiness, and Kyle Abbott has been added to the squad as cover.
The good news for the Proteas is that both Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe are fit to play to help guide the more inexperienced players. The batting is solid, and with Albie Morkel returning to the international fray for the first time in more than a year, it will be interesting to see what kind of combination the Proteas opt for.
Australia will have just one enforced change with Mitchell Johnson out of action for the series, but the rest of the personnel is very much a different outfit to the Test squad which has just triumphed. George Bailey and Co. have the luxury of fresh legs being bussed in while Faf du Plessis has to deal with a few tired players.
On paper, it promises to be a good contest with a mix of old and young, including players such as Brad Hodge, making their return. Who said T20 was no country for old men?
Players to watch
Quinton de Kock will be keen to pick up the pace from where he last left the international limited-overs scene. That was with three hundreds on the trot against India. Australia's attack are far more fearsome, but it's exactly the kind of challenge the youngster needs for him to thrive.
David Warner finds himself in the form of his life after scoring more than 500 runs in the Test series; with T20 being the format his hit-and-go approach is so perfectly suited to, Warner will be the key scalp for the South African bowlers.
Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
George Bailey (captain), Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wkt), Moises Henriques, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.