Australia in South Africa 2011-12 October 11, 2011

Uncapped Levi looks to bring energy to SA team

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Wynberg Boys' High School in Cape Town last produced a national cricketer in 1995. His name was Jacques Kallis. Sixteen years later, another of their pupils is ready to represent South Africa. His name is Richard Levi. To say he has big shoes to fill is an understatement.

"Jacques is probably the best cricketer in the world at the moment, so it's an unbelievable pedestal to look up to," Levi said. "We are quite different players but being brought up in the culture of Wynberg, we both enjoy and respect the game. Unfortunately I won't be able to play with him, which I was really looking forward to, but hopefully one day soon."

Levi is the only uncapped player in South Africa's Twenty20 squad and has been rewarded for ending third on the run-charts in the domestic twenty-over competition in which he scored 258 runs and three half-centuries. He also made an impression in the Cape Cobras first match of the Champions League T20 with a fluent 43 off 27 balls.

His international career was threatened before it even began when he was hit on the head by a Wayne Parnell bouncer during a practice session on Monday. "I got seven stitches in the back of the head but the rest of the boys and everyone else has been taking care of me so I am alright now," he said.

Although Levi has not been given indication of what his role will be if he is in the starting XI, he could well open the batting with either Graeme Smith or Hashim Amla or bat at No. 3 or 4 in the absence of AB de Villiers. It's an exciting prospect for a rookie and something Levi hopes to take full advantage of. "If I do get selected over the next two games it will be an unbelievable experience. I will look to bring youth and exuberance and to put in as much energy as possible."

While South Africa may be blooding a new player in Levi, the series could also teach some old hands new skills. Morne Morkel will have to lead the pace attack because Dale Steyn is being rested for the Twenty20 internationals, and Morkel says he has been working towards a more authoritative role for some time. "It's one of the things I have targeted," he said. "If one day something happens to Dale I have to be ready to lead the attack. Over the past couple of seasons I have grown personally so I am ready for it."

Morkel has played in two first-class matches since the start of the season, bowled one ball short of 57 overs and taken six wickets. He said the games were enough to "get rid of all the little niggles and aches and pains you get as a fast bowler," and he is now ready for international competition.

With Morkel the senior fast bowler, an interesting contest is expected between him and Delhi Daredevils team-mate David Warner, who is coming off back-to-back centuries for New South Wales in the Champions League. Morkel is ready to embrace the battle. "The most important thing is not to stand back and fight fire with fire," he said. "Let's see who can win that battle. Conditions here will be completely different; it's something the Australians need to get used to especially after preparing and playing in India so hopefully we can get the upper-hand there."

One of the bowlers who will support Morkel is left-armer Lonwabo Tsostobe. He made a positive impression in the series against India earlier this year and will want to build on that. Tsotsobe said he sees the new season as a chance to make a "fresh start" and that the South African team culture has created the conditions to enable him to do so. "We've got guys like Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn; whatever you do wrong, they are always backing you up. It's in the team culture that people lift you up," he said. "They want you to be your own leader so you don't have to wait for the captain to tell you something, you have to be the leader of your own space."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gupta.Ankur on October 12, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    Thanks to CLT20 for giving another fine young cricketer prominence.....

  • dummy4fb on October 12, 2011, 14:47 GMT

    Happy to see that both S A and Australia plays with thier own countrymen, unlike the English, who created easy rules to enable oversees players to play for them and achieve vicarious glory!

  • JUUREL on October 12, 2011, 14:05 GMT

    Hope South Africa can shake of the pre season rust.. Go Proteas !!

  • Gizza on October 12, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    I remember a few years ago Australia's Test tour of India was reduced to or perhaps originally planned as two Tests. Since then the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has begun to lose its charm after nearly a decade of memorable cricket. Of course both sides have also been aging and losing its retiring stars but still. Scheduling a two-test rubber type thing (it isn't a series) is an insult to any great Test cricket rivalry. And 2 Tests now with 4 tests later isn't really the same as 3 tests both now and then. If anything to compensate the next Test tour should be 5. Now that would be a treat. More 5-test non-Ashes series please!

  • RandyOZ on October 12, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    Seriously landl47, you lost to a second string WI side. I think you should be looking at problems closer to home before us. The weakness of your county seen meaning saffers get through is one!

  • Praxis on October 12, 2011, 11:19 GMT

    "Jacques is probably the best cricketer in the world at the moment", why? We all know that Kallis IS the best right now.

  • jonesy2 on October 12, 2011, 2:44 GMT

    landl47 --mate compared to england these two nations never field "weak" teams. warner, finch, tsotsobe, dumminy, cummins, okeefe, marsh's, morkel's.

    as more morne morkel vs warner, please, at least give warner a challenge. in all seriouslness morkel is ridiculously overrated.

  • Robster1 on October 11, 2011, 22:25 GMT

    Congratulations to Capetonian Levi on his selection, but with so many leading players missing, these fixtures between two of the leading sides will sadly miss their usual bite.

  • dummy4fb on October 11, 2011, 18:32 GMT

    Be happy that they atleast have two look at Eng,they r playing no tests in India,if they 3 tests or 4 they will lose their no.1 spot to India...U have to b happy for these two tests for they r the practice tests for both sides for the cricket summers they got a head of them..

  • landl47 on October 11, 2011, 17:34 GMT

    Two T20s (with both countries fielding weak teams), 3 ODIs and two tests. Cash 5, cricket 2. What a shame for two countries with such a proud heritage in test cricket. Who will win the T20s? No Kallis, Steyn, Hussey.... who cares?

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