South Africa include Steyn in World T20 squad
Dale Steyn will lead South Africa's World T20 attack, subject to his regaining full fitness. Steyn sat out six of South Africa's eight Tests this summer and broke down in the two that he played, first with a groin injury and then a shoulder niggle from which he is still recovering. He has not played any part in the ongoing ODI series against England and will not play the T20 series either, but should return for the T20 series against Australia in the build-up to the tournament.
The rest of the pace pack has a fresh look about it with Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott the frontline quicks and Morne Morkel, who has not been part of the T20 set-up since the series against New Zealand last August, missing out. Chris Morris and David Wiese provide the two seam-bowling all-round options. Albie Morkel, who was part of South Africa's last T20 squad in India, was also left out.
Albie Morkel was being primed for the allrounder's role and took 3 for 12 on international return in Cuttack last October. He was due to play in South Africa's ongoing ODI series against England but was ruled out before he could be included in the squad with a back problem. At the time there was some suggestion he would recover in time to play some part in the series, although it was never clarified. Morkel has since stated that he is "certainly not injured, not picked. that's all."
There are two specialist spinners in Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso, who was preferred over Eddie Leie, and eight batsmen including two wicket-keeping options in AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock. De Villiers was tasked with opening the batting and keeping in South Africa's most recent T20 matches against India even though de Kock was also in the squad. De Kock sat out those matches but, having regained form in recent weeks, is certain to be included in starting XIs at the World T20.
That may mean South Africa's plan of using de Villiers in the top two and behind the stumps is scuppered and de Kock will assume that role with de Villiers moving down the order. An experienced middle-order made up of captain Faf du Plessis, de Villiers and JP Duminy will likely leave room for only one of Farhaan Behardien or Rilee Rossouw, with an allrounder to follow.
Albie Morkel was being primed for that role and took 3 for 12 on international return in Cuttack last October but has since suffered a back injury that has kept him out of the England ODIs. Morris, the IPL's newest dollar millionaire, and Wiese will compete for a spot with Rabada, Steyn and Abbott forming the core of the attack. There may only be space for two of them at a time if South Africa play both Tahir and Phangiso, although they may also call on Duminy's offspin as an additional slower bowling option.
Phangiso was not part of the squad that played T20s in India but he did play in the ODI series there, which South Africa won 3-2. He made headlines for his behaviour on the way home when he was prevented from boarding a flight from Dubai to Johannesburg because he had insulted airline personnel after overindulging in alcohol. News of Phangiso's indiscretions only broke mid-January in the Afrikaans newspaper Rapport. CSA confirmed they had sanctioned Phangiso, although they did not make public what his punishment was, but said it did not involve leaving him out of national squads.
Russell Domingo, South Africa's head coach, hoped South Africa could build some momentum ahead of the World T20 with their performances against England and Australia.
"We take some confidence from our T20 series wins against Bangladesh and India and kept relatively the same players who have had success on the sub-continent," Domingo said. "We have been playing good T20 cricket of late and this is our opportunity to showcase our skills at a World event. The upcoming T20 series' against England and Australia will be the ideal platform for us to fine-tune some combinations and to hopefully gain some winning confidence ahead of the tournament next month.
"We are in a tough group in the tournament with England, West Indies, Sri Lanka and a qualifier. All of the top six teams on the world rankings have the skill and ability to lift the trophy so it's a completely open competition with high stakes."
Du Plessis reflected on South Africa's past heartbreaks at ICC events, and said the team was hungry to "lift that elusive ICC trophy".
"The ICC World T20 is the competition that we have been working towards over the last 18 months," he said. "We have had disappointments in the past and this year is another great opportunity for us to lift that elusive ICC trophy. We have been playing together as a squad for some time now and are really hungry and motivated to put in the performances to bring us success. I'm really excited about the group of players who will be representing the country and hope we can make everyone proud."
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent