The youngest member of South Africa's T20 squad is 22, the oldest 39, and it's this blend of youth and experience that allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo - himself only 26 days shy of being the most youthful player in the group - believes strikes just the right balance in this format.

"There is that balance between the guys that are experienced and already have a few T20 caps and the newbies," Phehlukwayo said on the eve of the first of three T20Is against Zimbabwe. "That's where the balance in the team comes in, and that's really good to have in the team."

South Africa have included two potential international debutants, Gihahn Cloete and Rassie van der Dussen, for the games against Zimbabwe, as well as offering further chances to fast bowlers Junior Dala and Dane Paterson, and allrounder Robbie Frylinck.

"There are a lot of guys in the team who are quite new," Phehlukwayo said. "But looking at their performances at the domestic level, they're really deserving of their caps. Gihahn is a really exciting batter. Rassie has done well overseas. He's gone over and played in the Caribbean Premier League and in America and done really well there. Junior and Rob have had a few caps. Every guy that's in the squad has put in performances at the domestic level and done really well, put up their hands and earned their spot in the international team.

"The depth within the South African system is really good," he added. "A few guys have had a few caps this series, and it's good to see new guys coming in and putting up their hands up before the World Cup."

Indeed, it's going to be hard to see any white-ball cricket that South Africa might play between now and May next year outside of the context of the World Cup and while the format might be different, clues as to how the new names in South Africa's T20 squad might also be part of their thinking for England can be gleaned from the cricket they've played recently. All four newcomers are coming off stints in the A side, which took part in a triangular one-day series against India and Australia's A teams in August.

Cloete was part of the same Under-19 team as Quinton de Kock, and consistent performances at domestic level lead to his inclusion in South Africa A's trip to India. He responded with a fluent fifty in a one-day game against Australia A, and opened his domestic season with 81 against Lions last week.

Frylinck was also part of that A tour, having made his T20I debut against Bangladesh last year following a stint with Trinbago Knight Riders in CPL 2017. At 34, Frylinck brings a wealth of T20 experience and adds value as a two-in-one player. He has played 98 T20s, scoring his runs at 148.22 and taking a wicket every 18.5 deliveries, relying on a mixture of knuckleballs and yorkers at the death.

Paterson's bowling skillset is similarly modern, and he made a good impression with 5 for 19 against India A before returning to South Africa and helping Cobras to a winning start to their domestic season with a match haul of 7 for 135 against the Knights at Newlands. Van der Dussen's contributions to that A tour were a little slim, but he is riding on excellent T20 returns from the Global T20 in Canada and the Caribbean Premier League.

As South Africa builds towards Vision 2019, all of the above - as well as Dala, who played two ODIs in Sri Lanka - will believe that their T20 skills might be transferable to a slightly longer format. Phehlukwayo certainly believes that's the case, suggesting that the fine margins of the shortest format can help to hone vital skills.

"T20 cricket helps with all the small skills, all the small fundamentals of trying to hit the ball into the gaps and using skills that you might not use particularly often in the long format," he said. "It just enhances your level, and the variety of shots you have, the skills you can use."

South Africa galloped to a 3-0 victory in the ODIs, and by the third game they were starting to express the sort of positivity that coach Ottis Gibson is trying to make the touchstone of their limited-overs cricket. Replicating that over and over will be key to making it part of the team culture, reckoned Phehlukwayo.

"We've got to stick to the level of cricket and the brand of cricket that we play," he said. "We've got to put a lot of emphasis on the culture and the brand of cricket that we want to play. We want to be really positive, we want to execute our skills, and it doesn't matter about the opposition. In pressure situations, you want to be the person that's there and doing well."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town