Quinton de Kock will captain the South Africa men's T20I squad, with regular skipper Faf du Plessis given an extended period of rest, for the three-match series against England at home from February 16 to 20. Kagiso Rabada, who is currently on holiday in the United States, will also not feature in the series but Dale Steyn makes a return to the national side after an absence of 11 months.
Batsman Pite van Biljon and seam bowler Sisanda Magala have received maiden call-ups, with Magala's involvement in the series dependent on him passing a fitness test as was the case with the ongoing ODI rubber. Magala, along with Tabraiz Shamsi, Jon-Jon Smuts and Lungi Ngidi, attended a CSA-organised strength and conditioning camp in January which addressed weight, nutrition and skills training. The other three players were successful in completing their fitness assessments ahead of the ODI series, in which they have been playing, and have also been included in the T20I playing group.
The T20I squad also includes eight other players who are part of the fifty-over set-up, including Temba Bavuma and left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin, both of whom have only played in two T20Is to date. Allrounder Dwaine Pretorius, who made his debut in the Tests series but did not feature in the ODIs, returns to the T20I squad and wicketkeeper batsman Heinrich Klaasen, who last played for South Africa in a Test in India, has also been recalled. Van Biljon, who finished in the top 15 on the Mzansi Super League (MSL) run charts, has been rewarded for a consistent 24 months and given the opportunity to stake a claim for the T20 World Cup.
"With a T20 World Cup not too far away, we have begun the process of identifying several players whom we will be looking at over a period of time and hope that by the time September comes along, we will have the best possible squad of 15 representing South Africa," Graeme Smith, CSA's acting director of cricket, said.
Du Plessis is set to be part of that group although there is no indication of the outcome of the talks between him and Smith being made public yet. Du Plessis, who remains South Africa's Test and T20 captain and is available for fifty-over selection, told the media on numerous occasions during the Test series that he is committed to playing for the country until after the T20 World Cup, and Smith said he would have discussions with du Plessis over his future in the break between the England Tests and T20s. South Africa also host Australia for three ODIs and three T20s immediately after England depart and that series may provide more clarity on du Plessis' future.
Steyn's situation is more transparent. The fast bowler retired from red-ball cricket last year to concentrate on shorter formats but was left out of South Africa's T20 tour to India despite declaring himself fit. He went on to play in the MSL - where he was the third-highest wicket-taker - and in the Big Bash League, and is part of South Africa's T20 World Cup plans.
So are AB de Villiers, Chris Morris and Imran Tahir but none of the three are in the squad to face England. De Villiers, who retired from all international cricket last year, and Morris, who is no longer contracted to CSA, have also been involved at the Big Bash. It is understood that de Villiers would only be considered for reintegration into the team after the IPL, while Tahir has been stood down so South Africa can explore other spin options. He is currently playing for the Dolphins in the domestic one-day competition and is certain to travel to the T20 World Cup.
South Africa Squad: Quinton de Kock (capt & wk), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Pite van Biljon, Dwaine Pretorius, Andile Phehlukwayo, Jon-Jon Smuts, Beuran Hendricks, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Dale Steyn, Heinrich Klaasen