Venue – Kingsmead Cricket Ground, Durban
1st T20I Date: Wednesday, August 30
2nd T20I Date: Friday September 1
3rd T20I Date: Sunday, September 3
BetXchange 1st T20I Odds:
The best type of warm-up series for a major tournament is one that doesn’t feel like a warm-up series. That is exactly what South Africa and Australia have going on here, with both teams using the next eight matches to work on their preparations for the ODI World Cup in India that starts in October.
Playing so many games against an old foe – an old foe where the matches always have a little more feel and meaning than against some of the other top countries in world cricket – should be the perfect preparation for the Proteas and the Aussies as they embark on their World Cup campaigns.
This will be a particularly important series for the Proteas, given that the South African national side has been on an unusually long break since early April.
South Africa has gone fully experimental with their T20I squad for this three-match battle against Australia. Experienced hands Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, and Anruich Nortje have all been rested. However, all will be back in the squad for the following five-match ODI series.
Resting experienced players with both the bat and the ball is clearly a risk, but it is one that the Proteas management thinks is needed with the ODI World Cup coming up later this year and the T20I World Cup just over the horizon in 2024.
That is why the uncapped foursome of Dewald Brevis, Gerald Coetzee, Matthew Breetzke, and Donovan Ferreira are all involved, with Coetzee having played in the ODI and Test cricket format for South Africa and Ferreira and Brevis having flashed potential with the bat in the best T20 leagues in the world.
Australia has also thrown a team with an experimental feel into the first section of this whiteball tour. Not all the changes are ones that the Aussies wanted to make, with star all-rounder Glenn Maxwell having flown home after a setback in his recovery from a broken leg last year.
Maxwell joins a who’s who of Australian crickets missing the T20 leg of the tour. Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Cam Green, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Devid Warner are also all missing, though several of those players will be rejoining the squad for the ODis.
The injury to Maxwell has opened the door for 34-year-old wicketkeeper Matthew Wade to reignite his international career, though he will likely sit behind 26-year-old Josh Inglis, a player who seems to have spent an age on the fringes of all three international format setups.
Australia are the favorites for the match and the series, but picking against South Africa in Durban is always foolish. There are enough big names missing from each camo – especially with the late withdrawals from Australia – that I like the hosts to surprise and win the opening match as they put down a marker for both the T20s and ODIs to come.