With the administrative unrest that has engulfed Cricket South Africa (CSA) temporarily on hold as the interim board sets about cleaning up the game, the hope for many is that the focus will return to the field of play.
50-over world champions England arrived in the country on Tuesday and, between 27 November and 9 December, they will play in three T20s and three ODIs against the Proteas.
It will be the South African men’s national team’s first international cricket since March, before the global coronavirus pandemic struck, and all matches will be played in the Western Cape between Newlands and Boland Park.
Given everything that has happened – in general and in South African cricket – over the last eight months, having the Proteas back on the park will come as a sigh of relief to administrators, players and fans.
The Proteas will probably enter both limited overs series as underdogs, especially considering that England have played recent international cricket.
Still, a look through the 24-man South African squad for the series suggests that there is plenty to be excited about for the hosts.
This was new convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang’s first squad announcement since taking on the role, and it was met with a general nod of approval.
There is a noticeable blend between pedigreed experience and youth.
Here, Sport24 takes a look at six young players – in terms of international experience, if not age – who could use a couple of solid performances against England to solidify their positions as natural Proteas fits.
This, in many ways, is the dawn of a new era in South African cricket and with a T20 World Cup in India scheduled for next year, all players now have an opportunity to prove to Mpitsang and head coach Mark Boucher that they belong at this level.
Stuurman may be 28, but he is somewhat of a late bloomer when it comes to professional cricket and it is only in the last couple of seasons that he has started generating some national attention at the Warriors. Stuurman is the only uncapped player in the Proteas squad. His control and accuracy are his major strengths, and he comes incredibly highly rated by those who have played against him recently on the domestic circuit.
Fortuin, one of four specialist left-arm spinners in the Proteas squad, already has a taste of international cricket but opportunities have been extremely limited. Operating out of the Lions, he is a player who has been consistently impressive at franchise level for a sustained period of time and his call-up here is just reward for that. With Imran Tahir not included, there will be chances for other spinners to stake their claim, and Fortuin will know that.
Linde (28) played a single Test for the Proteas in India last year, but it is on the domestic circuit with the Cobras where he has been most impressive. Linde has won numerous games for his side, across all formats, and he has an ability to pick up a lot of wickets quickly. His explosive batting, too, makes him a very attractive option down the order, especially in a Proteas limited over setup that has struggled with that depth in recent years.
The 24-year-old was brilliant earlier in the year, scoring 124* in just his second ODI against Australia. With Aiden Markram not included, there is a vacancy alongside Quinton de Kock at the top of the Proteas order and Malan is poised to make that spot his own. He could do with more runs against England, though, because the likes of Reeza Hendricks and Temba Bavuma await.
The exciting 22-year-old already has four ODIs and five T20Is to his name, but these series present Sipamla with another opportunity to show people why he is accompanied by so much hype. With Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi leading the way, the Proteas fast bowling department all-of-a-sudden has a quality look to it, and with the likes of Junior Dala and Beuran Hendricks also in the mix, there is strong competition for places.
Verreynne gave a solid account of himself in his maiden ODI series against the Aussies back in March and he is a player with the brightest of Proteas futures. He is flexible enough to float up and down the order, while he can also take the wicketkeeping gloves. Verreynne is still just 23, so any time out in the middle in his home province over the next few weeks will be beneficial to his growth.
– Compiled by Lloyd Burnard