Australia v South Africa, 1st Twenty20 international, Melbourne January 10, 2009

Teams start afresh after tough Tests

Match facts

South Africa want Herschelle Gibbs in their plans for the next few years and this will be his first outing since completing an alcohol rehabilitation programme © AFP
Sunday, January 11
Start time 7.35pm (08:35 GMT)

The Big Picture

Can anything really live up to the Test series we've just witnessed between these two teams? Probably not. But the world's two top-ranked limited-overs sides going head to head in a Twenty20 match in front of a likely crowd of more than 75,000 at the MCG should be a terrific spectacle in any case. Australia will be desperate for some strong performances to ease the pressure after losing their first home Test series in 16 years. South Africa have declared that they are treating this portion of their trip as a separate tour. Both teams are taking the opportunity to trial some fresh talent.

Twenty20 form guide

Australia - LWWLL

South Africa - WWLWL

Team news

Australia have rested Brad Haddin due to his heavy workload in the past month and Luke Ronchi will take up the position behind the stumps. Ronchi was excellent with both bat and gloves in the West Indies this year but his domestic batting form has been down this summer and a lower-order position is likely. Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson have also been given time off. Australia's major decision was over which bowlers to include. They are keen to get some overs into Shaun Tait, while squad members Ryan Harris and Nathan Hauritz will have to wait until Tuesday at the Gabba for potential Twenty20 international debuts.

Australia 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 David Warner, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 David Hussey, 6 Cameron White, 7 James Hopes, 8 Luke Ronchi (wk), 9 Nathan Bracken, 10 Ben Hilfenhaus, 11 Shaun Tait.

South Africa have named their starting line-up and there is no Hashim Amla, Neil McKenzie or Morne Morkel. Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Vaughn van Jaarsveld are set to make their international debuts, while all eyes will also be on Herschelle Gibbs in his return to the national side.

South Africa 1 Herschelle Gibbs, 2 Jacques Kallis, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 JP Duminy, 5 Vaughn van Jaarsveld, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha (capt), 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Makhaya Ntini, 11 Lonwabo Tsostobe.

Watch out for ...

David Warner was the bolter in Australia's squad. At 22 and having not yet made his first-class debut, Warner was picked on the strength of a couple of brilliant limited-overs performances for New South Wales. He made a state record unbeaten 165 in from 112 balls against Tasmania and followed it a week later with 97 from 54 balls - narrowly missing the fastest one-day hundred in Australian domestic history - against the same opponents in Hobart. He will be especially fascinating to watch if he uses the double-sided bat he has trialled this season; it allows him to play the reverse-sweep without changing his grip.

Herschelle Gibbs turns 35 next month but South Africa view him as an important part of their campaign for the 2011 World Cup. Those plans were derailed slightly in November when Gibbs was demoted from the national setup after breaking a team curfew. A month-long alcohol rehabilitation programme was the result and this will be Gibbs' first appearance since the incident. The coach Mickey Arthur has told Gibbs he expects him to lead from the front as the senior man in the top order; it will be interesting to see how he responds.

Pitch & conditions

The MCG's drop-in pitches have not been easy to score on in recent years. The surfaces are often two-paced and in limited-overs formats bowlers have had more reason to cheer than usual.

Stats and trivia

  • The teams have met in two Twenty20 internationals for one win each.
  • The MCG has hosted only one Twenty20 international and the 74 made by India last year was the lowest innings total ever recorded by a Test-playing nation in the format.
  • Australia have never been beaten in a Twenty20 match at home
  • This is only the second Twenty20 match South Africa have played outside their own country


"We're expecting a huge backlash from them in this series and they have to start as favourites. There's no doubt about that."
South Africa's coach Mickey Arthur

"It's just about, I guess, starting the series well and that starts here with the Twenty20. The big thing is we've got some young blokes who add something different."
Australia's fast bowler Nathan Bracken

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo