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Mitchell Marsh named Australia's T20 captain for South Africa; uncapped trio earn call-ups

Spencer Johnson, Aaron Hardie and Matt Short have been handed their first Australia selections

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Mitchell Marsh pulls behind square, India vs Australia, 2nd ODI, Visakhapatnam, March 19, 2023

Mitchell Marsh will take on Australia's T20 captaincy  •  Getty Images

Mitchell Marsh has been named Australia's T20 captain for the tour of South Africa, making him a frontrunner for the role on a permanent basis leading into next year's World Cup.
South Australia left-arm fast bowler Spencer Johnson has earned his first international call-up alongside allrounders Aaron Hardie and Matt Short for the three-match series which starts in late August and are Australia's first T20 games since last year's World Cup where the hosts went out in the group stage.
Marsh takes the job vacated by Aaron Finch's international retirement earlier this year although his appointment is currently just for the three matches in South Africa. The selectors will make a decision on the long-term captain after this year's ODI World Cup, where Australia will be led by Pat Cummins, with a good chance they will unite the white-ball roles under one name, putting Marsh in a strong position to lead in both formats.
"Mitch has long been a senior player within the white-ball structure, with this an opportunity for him to add to his leadership skills at international level," national selector George Bailey said. "We look forward to him taking that step in South Africa."
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green and David Warner have been rested from the T20Is following the Ashes and will join for the ODIs. However, Steven Smith is included and Bailey confirmed he would open against South Africa following his stunning BBL performances for Sydney Sixers last season. Ashton Agar was ruled out of the T20Is as he continues to recover from a calf strain but will be available for the one-dayers.
The trio of new faces in the T20I squad come on the back of impressive form in the BBL last season. Johnson had a breakout season for Brisbane Heat where he stood out operating at the death and then translated that form into the Sheffield Shield with South Australia.
Hardie, who plays for Perth Scorchers, was the tournament's leading run-scorer with 460 at a strike-rate of 141.10, while Short was only narrowly behind him with 458 striking at 144.47. Short earned an IPL deal with Punjab Kings on the back of his BBL season where he also claimed 11 wickets to be named the player of the season. Hardie has also been included the squad for the ODIs in South Africa and India.
Left-armer Jason Behrendorff returns to the international fold and could play his first T20Is since the tour of West Indies in 2021.
"Aaron, Spencer and Matt have been outstanding in the BBL and identified as potential national players of the future," Bailey said. "This tour is a great opportunity for all three to demonstrate those skills in a national team environment.
"Aaron has impressed in recent outings for Australia A as well as for the Scorchers while Matt has blossomed with extra responsibility at the top of the order for the Strikers.
"Spencer's left-arm pace and bounce was highly effective in his first season for the Heat. This trip will be a fantastic experience for all three and the chance to play their first games for their country."
From those who featured at last year's T20 World Cup there is no place for Matthew Wade or Kane Richardson, but Bailey said he expected Wade to feature in the series against India which follows the ODI World Cup and the South Africa tour was seen as an opportunity to get some games into Josh Inglis.
Australia T20 squad vs South Africa: Mitchell Marsh (capt), Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Aaron Hardie, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Short, Steven Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo