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South Africa squad for England T20Is: Steyn returns, Rabada rests, no room for Faf

South Africa's Reeza Hendricks in action
South Africa's Reeza Hendricks in action
©Reuters
 

Dale Steyn, who last made an appearance for South Africa in March 2019 against Sri Lanka, has been picked in the team's 16-member squad for the T20I series against England.

At 36, Dale Steyn has had a frustrating few years with one injury following another. The most heartbreaking of all saw him miss this year's ODI World Cup. That led him to retire from Test cricket, ending as the highest wicket-taker for South Africa in the format.

However, Steyn's comeback looks promising this time around. He recently finished third in the wicket charts of the Mzansi Super League 2019 with 15 wickets from 8 matches at an average of 15.13 and an economy of 7.09, with best match figures of 3-10.

Steyn was also good for the Melbourne Stars in the four matches that he played for the franchise in the Big Bash League, picking up five wickets while being economical.

If fit, Steyn will be one of the leading pacers for South Africa in the upcoming T20 World Cup. His pace may be down by a few clicks but Steyn still guarantees control. The biggest obstacle in his path to the upcoming showpiece event will be his fitness.

Rabada and du Plessis not included

Kagiso Rabada missed the last Test of the four-match Test series against England due to a ban. He has now been rested from white-ball cricket to keep his body in good stead, given the future load. The pacer has not been at his best in the last few matches and has picked up four wickets while leaking a lot of runs in his last four T20Is. It was evident that he was on the verge of a complete burn out and the rest comes at the right time.

South Africa have continued to keep Faf du Plessis out of their T20I plans. However, one believes that this is only because they are trying to give opportunities to youngsters and the former skipper will be back in the thick of things closer to the World Cup.

Maiden call-ups for van Biljon and Magala

Pite van Biljon and Sisanda Magala have been offered maiden international call-ups. Mangala was initially named in the ODI squad as well but failed to establish full fitness and hence did not get a chance. He has since played a couple of games in the the ongoing Momentum One Day Cup and had looked decent. While he conceded 67 runs and picked up just one wicket in his first game, his returns improved considerably in the next match - 2/36.

Magala earlier bowled well in the Mzansi Super league and picked up 11 wickets from 9 matches while bowling at a decent economy of 8.22, with best match figures of 3/17.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Pite van Biljon has also been called up for the T20I series. From 66 T20 games, he averages 32.32 and strikes at close to 135. The 33-year-old scored 192 runs from 7 MSL innings at an average of close to 50 and a strike rate of just about 140.

Gearing up for the T20 World Cup

The 16-member South African squad for the T20I series clearly shows that the team is taking its preparation for the T20 World Cup quite seriously. The Proteas have given opportunities to the likes of Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin and Heinrich Klaasen and some of them are expected to come good.

"We are pleased with the group that we have selected for this upcoming T20 series against England. We have once again taken the opportunity to reward some of the hard workers of our domestic franchise system while some of our key senior players continue with their much-needed rest period and we have again, put our faith in Quinton (de Kock) to lead this group of exciting cricketers, picking up where he left off in India where he showed exemplary leadership," CSA Acting Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith said.

"With a T20 World Cup not too far away, we have begun the process of identifying several players whom we will be looking at over a period of time and hope that by the time September comes along, we will have the best possible squad of 15 representing South Africa."

Performances against England and in the upcoming series against Australia will go a long way in establishing the places of Protea players with regard to the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Squad: Quinton de Kock (c, wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen

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