Cape Town - The upcoming KFC T20 International series against England starting at PPC Newlands on Friday is an important opportunity for the squad to go through their checks and balances ahead of a decisive six weeks culminating with the ICC World T20 in India next month.
The Proteas have seven matches; two against England, three against Australia and two warm-up matches, before they open their campaign against England at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on March 18.
Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, says the management have an idea of who their strongest starting XI will be, and will use the matches leading up to the tournament to build playing confidence amongst all 15 players in the squad.
“I do know what our best team is,” Du Plessis said to the media at PPC Newlands on Thursday. “The great thing about how our plans have unfolded over the last 18 months is that we sat down and planned the ideal 15 that we would like to take and that is the 15 that has been selected. In that period we experimented a bit, tried new roles, tried to see where guys are suited best, and in my mind I’m clear where that is.
“The next five games, seven including the two warm-up matches, will be about giving most of the guys game time. You can’t always guarantee everyone will play and it’s about getting the guys ready and feeling good before the first match at the World Cup.”
Although the main priority remains the World T20 and another attempt at silverware at an ICC event, the series against England presents an opportunity for the Proteas to cap off the summer on a high. The Proteas have only played England in nine T20I’s (W5 L3 NR1) and a series win will lift them further up the ICC rankings from their current position at No.6.
“For me, honestly, the biggest thing is the World Cup,” Du Plessis stressed. “Everything that we do is geared around that. If we lose 2-0, yes it’s not ideal for preparation, but it’s about ticking the boxes that we are still working on and making sure we are improving on that so that when we get to that stage we will be ready.
“If it takes the first game, whether we have nailed our skills and we are ready to go, end up winning five out of five that will be great. If it goes the other way, it’s about gradually stepping up in two weeks. Everyone must be clear about their role in the team, once you are in that space and are in form in the tournament anything is possible.”