SA’s youngsters put out to play in Oz Twenty20

2009-01-09 00:00

BOTH Australia and South Africa will sport several new faces in tomorrow’s opening Twenty20 fixture at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Feeling the aftereffects of the epic three match series that ended dramatically on Wednesday, both sides have several casualties as the limited overs fare takes centre stage.

The Proteas captain is back home nursing a broken finger and tennis elbow, while Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke will miss tomorrow and Tuesday’s Twenty20 games due to ligament damage on his right thumb. Clarke is hoping to be fit for the 50-over contests, however.

Graeme Smith has urged for supporters to be patient if the young Proteas side doesn’t fire over the next three weeks.

“We view the series as good preparation for the next World Cup. As captain I actually can’t wait for the series to start,” he told news24.

“I’m really excited to see how our young players will perform. They can play their way into permanent positions in the team with good performances.”

The Proteas side sees the introduction of Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Wayne Parnell and Lonwabo Tsotsobe to the big time. With an eye firmly on the 2011 World Cup, coach Mickey Arthur will look to slowly integrate the promising trio into a line-up that has failed to match the Test side’s record-breaking exploits.

Johan Botha will captain the side in Smith’s absence, with Neil McKenzie staying down under as top-order batting cover. The return of Herschelle Gibbs will also spark interest, with the gifted but wayward opener given another chance against the world champions.

The biggest news in the Australian squad is the axing of veteran opener Matthew Hayden.

Suffering from a sustained loss of form, the burly Queenslander may well have played his last game in coloured clothing for Ricky Ponting’s side, with his Test future also hanging by a thread.

Reacting to the news of his omission, Hayden told the Australian newspaper that, “It’s been a pretty long last four months. I am going to take the time to get my mind around what the future does hold.”

Chief Australian selector Andrew Hilditch was less vague. “We are moving on.” He added that although it had been planned for Hayden to play until after the Ashes in England, those plans will have to be revisited.

Mitchell Johnson, the standout player for the Aussies in the Test series, has been given a rest period that will see him return for the third ODI match.

David Warner, a New South Wales batsman, and Queensland all-rounder Ryan Harris have been added to the Twenty20 squad.

TV: Live on CSN and SuperSport 2 from 10 am.

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