Zimbabwe in SA
Proteas enter into new era
Johan Botha (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein - It will be something of a new era on many fronts for the Proteas Standard Bank squad when they play Zimbabwe in the first of two Pro20 International contests at Bloemfontein's OUTsurance Oval on Friday evening (18:00 start).
Johan Botha has considerable international captaincy experience, but this will be his first game since being awarded the Twenty20 captaincy on a full-time basis.
The national selectors have also continued their youthful policy for this format of the game, which started with David Miller's call-up (then only 20-years-old) for the limited overs section of the West Indies tour earlier this year.
The Chevrolet Warriors duo of Colin Ingram and Rusty Theron are in line for their international debuts in at least one of the games, while there are recalls for Heino Kuhn behind the stumps and for spin bowling all-rounder Robbie Peterson.
The absence through injury of Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn, Albie Morkel and AB de Villiers automatically gives the squad a different look too.
There will also be a lot of interest in the return of Wayne Parnell after a long-term injury.
Botha was not expecting an easy ride from Zimbabwe.
"In this format of the game, it only needs one batsman to make 80 off 50 balls, or a bowler to pick up a few quick wickets, to put you under pressure," he said.
"We are in the fortunate position that several of our players have done well for South Africa A in the off-season or in the Champions League so it will not be like a start to the season.
"We already have good match practice under our belt."
Botha said he wanted his players "to be aggressive within reason".
"I expect the youngsters will give it a full go," he said.
With the exception of Albie Morkel, who was replaced earlier in the week by Ryan McLaren, Botha said he had a full squad of 13 players available for selection.
"Albie is 90% to 95% fit, but he is not ready for selection quite yet."