News Analysis

Six players to watch in South Africa-Australia T20Is

The big prize on the horizon is the ODI World Cup, but it's only nine months until the next men's T20 edition takes place in West Indies and the USA

Dewald Brevis

You probably already know this name but if you don't, remember it: Dewald Brevis. Tipped to become South Africa's next big batting thing since finishing as the leading run-scorer at the 2022 Under-19 World Cup, Brevis has had to wait 18 months to crack the senior side and has racked up a host of domestic accolades in the meantime. Apart from deals in the IPL, CPL and MLC, he was the 13th highest run-scorer in last season's SA20 and the second-highest in the domestic T20 competition, where he smashed an incredible 162 from 57 balls against Knights - the fifth-highest score in the format ever. He is known for his audacious batting ability, fearless strokeplay and love for boundaries so expect some big shots if he gets to make his debut.

Josh Inglis

As is often the lot of the reserve wicketkeeper, Josh Inglis has carried a lot of drinks for Australia. It was something noted by George Bailey, the selection chair, when this squad was named. The three matches against South Africa will offer Inglis his best run of games since facing Sri Lanka in early 2022. Having initially been earmarked as a potential finisher around the time of the 2021 T20 World Cup, he impressed against Sri Lanka batting at No. 3 and No. 5. It seems likely he will again slot in higher up the order, with finishing duties left to the likes of Marcus Stoinis and Tim David. Inglis will want to take his opportunity, though, because Matthew Wade's T20I is not as over as it appeared after last year's World Cup and he is now with this squad as Glenn Maxwell's replacement, although is not expected to keep wicket in the series.

Matthew Breetzke

It's been a slow burn for top-order batter Matthew Breetzke, who has consistently been among the top domestic run-scorers but has not found a place in a national squad until now. In the 2021 CSA Provincial T20 Cup, he was the second leading run-scorer and went on to enjoy his most profitable summer the following year. In the 2022-23 season, he averaged just under 40 in List A cricket and close to 50 in T20s. He offers stability in the top three, safe hands behind the stumps and the experience of six years on the domestic scene and will hope he can use this series to start to establish him on the international stage.

Matt Short

Assuming David Warner reaches next year's T20 World Cup as he has planned, there's a spot vacant alongside him. The uncapped Matt Short, last year's BBL player of the season after 458 runs and 11 wickets, is among the contenders and Steven Smith's withdrawal from this series should ensure he gets an opportunity. It could be that he opens with Adelaide Strikers team-mate Travis Head in what may develop into a tussle for a World Cup spot. He is coming off the back of playing the Hundred for Northern Superchargers where he had a strike-rate of 166.66. Short's offspin, which he has bowled in the powerplay, is another strong to his bow.

Donovan Ferreira

A surprise big-earner at the SA20 auction last year, Donovan Ferreira was picked up for R5.5 million (approx US$300,000) by Joburg Super Kings and was the fifth-highest purchase of the tournament. But the Chennai-backed squad knew what they were doing. Ferreira proved himself as a finisher with the bat in the previous two season's domestic tournaments and has subsequently also earned IPL, CPL and Zim Afro T10 deals. In the last of those, he grabbed headlines when he hit five successive sixes in one match. With Quinton de Kock rested from the T20Is, he could take the gloves at least once, with Tristan Stubbs and Breetzke also likely to be given opportunity and should see this as a chance to be considered for next year's T20 World Cup.

Spencer Johnson

From Australia's perspective, no one is going to be watched more over the next few weeks than Spencer Johnson. At 27 he is starting to make up for lost time after a string of injuries; the speed of his elevation to the international stage is remarkable. The selectors have an eye on him as an option across all formats and he will now remain in South Africa for the ODIs due to Mitchell Starc's groin injury. Given the condensed nature of the schedule he will likely play two of the three T20Is and then also be rotated through the 50-over matches.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket; Andrew McGlashan is Deputy Editor