Johannesburg - With several key Protea players rested, the first two matches of South Africa’s T20 International series against Sri Lanka will provide a rare opportunity for some deserving domestic performers to showcase their skills on the big stage.
Theunis de Bruyn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo and Jon-Jon Smuts will all have the opportunity to earn their maiden T20 International cap for the Proteas when the T20 series against Sri Lanka commences on Friday 20 January.
Phehlukwayo has already played six One Day Internationals for the Proteas, however for the other five newcomers; it provides them with the unique opportunity to represent their country at the highest level in the format.
Among those named in the squad is 32-year-old Heino Kuhn – a man who played the last of his five T20 Internationals for the Proteas back in 2011. A perennial performer at domestic level, Kuhn’s selection is a well-deserved one according to former South African spin bowler Paul Harris.
“I think he is more suited to test cricket, but he has done very well for the Titans this season in T20 cricket and it is great for him to get that recognition,” said Harris.
Harris also had high praise for the inclusion of Jon-Jon Smuts; whose 317 runs topped the charts in the CSA T20 Challenge.
“Jon-Jon Smuts has been brilliant for the Warriors with bat, ball and with the captaincy, so it is great to see him get a chance.”
The absence of several key players who are being rested from the test series, coupled with the losses of Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw and David Wiese to Kolpak signings, will provide the newcomers with a golden opportunity to impress.
“It is obviously huge for these players; you don’t often get a chance to play for South Africa so it is up to them to take it. If you come in and get a big score or do well with the ball, you never know what can happen,” added Harris.
Despite having already been capped 25 times in the T20 format for the Proteas, the first two matches will too provide Farhaan Behardien with an exceptional chance to showcase his leadership skills as skipper of the team.
“Behardien was superb in the T20 Challenge this year – the standout player by a long way. He has done phenomenally well and you imagine that he would be in that T20 squad no matter who was rested, so it is great to him getting a chance to captain the side,” explained Harris.
With some 12 first choice players unavailable due for various reason, the newbies to the South African T20 squad may well take heed of Eminem’s Lose Yourself lyrics which state “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.”
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