Cape Town - The Proteas take on world No 1 Australia and hosts West Indies in a tri-series showdown in the Caribbean.
The 10-match tri-nation tournament, which lasts 23 days (June 3 - June 26), will be the first series in the Caribbean islands to have all games played under lights.
It promises to be an interesting contest with Australia up against the West Indies who are the defending ICC World T20 champions and an always strong South African side.
1. Proteas need to regroup
With the IPL done and dusted, the Proteas can get back to focusing on their craft and try and produce match-winning performances.
Let’s face it, the Proteas haven’t had a fantastic start to their year thus far, from losing their number one Test ranking (and dropping down to number six) to failing to advance in the semi-finals of the ICC World T20 in India, there’s been very little to smile about.
However, the Proteas did manage to secure a 3-2 series win against England in February at home, and will be looking back on that series in particular to steer them through to win this tri-nation tournament.
2. No Dale Steyn
South Africa will be without reliable spearhead Dale Steyn for the series, but the Proteas bowling attack will be packing pace with 21-year-old Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Morné Morkel all in fine form. Wayne Parnell is back after missing international action for over a year and will be looking to cement his selection in the squad. The Proteas travel with three spinners, namely Imran Tahir, Aaron Phangiso and debutant Tabraiz Shamsi.
3. Tabraiz Shamsi’s inclusion
26-year-old Shamsi will most likely make his ODI debut after an excellent season this summer for the Titans and for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the Caribbean Premier League. Shamsi steered the Titans to their fourth Sunfoil Series title by grabbing 41 wickets at an average of 19.97 with a best of 7-92 against the Warriors. However, with Tahir and Phangiso also in the squad, it’ll be interesting to see if the selectors include Shamsi in the starting XI for Friday's opening match.
4. West Indian selection policy
Despite leading the West Indies to their second T20 World title, skipper Darren Sammy along with Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Lendl Simmons cannot play in the tri-angular series due to the WICB’s selection policy. This policy, which dates back to 2010, states that West Indian players need to play domestic tournaments to be eligible to play international cricket. However all is not lost for the hosts as they still have some international and experienced firepower in their squad, namely Carlos Brathwaite, Kieron Pollard and Marlon Samuels.
5. Defending their number one status
Heading into the tri-series, the Australian side would be the favourites to claim series honours considering they are the No 1 side in the world in the 50-over format and are the reigning World Cup champions. If the Aussies somehow manage to lose all their matches (and South Africa happen to win all of theirs), Australia will drop down in the rankings and be replaced by the South African side, who are currently third.
6. David Warner key player for Australia
Opening batsman David Warner was by far the best Australian player throughout the IPL, just falling short of leading run-scorer Virat Kohli with 848 runs at an average of 60.7. Warner, who captained the Sunrisers Hyderabad to their maiden IPL title, will be looking to take his aggressive form to the Caribbean, as he joins his Australian team-mates for their first game on Sunday (June 5) against the hosts.
7. Mitchell Starc back in action
Australian paceman Mitchell Starc will be returning to action after recovering from a foot fracture which sidelined him for more than six months. Although the left-arm fast bowler hasn’t had game time in a while, he will surely be raring to go. Starc will give an extra boost to the already powerful Australian bowling line-up, which features Nathan Coulter-Nile, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa.
8. Trial for Russell Domingo
This could be a defining series that may well tilt Proteas fans' decision on whether Russell Domingo should stay or go as national coach. Domingo has been under immense pressure since South Africa lost their No 1 Test status and lost their first Test series away from home in nine years against India in November last year. Since succeeding former South African opening batsman Gary Kirsten in May 2013 and coaching his first game in July 2013, South Africa have played 122 matches, winning 66 and losing 47 with nine draws.
Fixtures for tri-series (all matches start at 19:00 SA time):
West Indies vs South Africa – Friday, June 3
West Indies vs Australia – Sunday, June 5
Australia vs South Africa – Tuesday, June 7
Australia vs South Africa – Saturday, June 11
West Indies vs Australia – Monday, June 13
West Indies vs South Africa – Wednesday, June 15
Australia vs South Africa – Sunday, June 19
West Indies vs Australia – Tuesday, June 21
West Indies vs South Africa – Friday, June 24
Final – Sunday, June 26