It will surprise no one that I am not they greatest of fans of the shortest form of cricket. In fact, I theorise that calling the T20 form of the game cricket is a misnomer because the skills of the game are so different from what we see in the long form of the game. Yes the players still bowl and bat and field but the lines that a bowled, the shots that are played and the fields that are set are so different as to be unrecognisable from the pure form of the game.
Another facet of the difference is the different teams that play the game at the top level. The best example of this is seen with the Australian team that has been selected for the three match T20 series due to commence in South Africa tonight. Only three players from the all-conquering test team remain in the T20 squad remain with the team in South Africa (Mitchell Johnson has been rested).
This series is basically a group of 3 practice matches before the T20 World Cup commences in Bangladesh later in the month. Darren Lehmann has already said that he will use it as such to give players game time before the tournament commences so it seems obvious that results are not at the forefront of mind for the Australians.
Australia, historically, has struggled for success in this form of the game and their record against the South Africans is indicative of this having only won 4 of the 11 encounters between these two countries. South Africa have been historically dominant at home winning 19 of 29 T20 internationals hosted by them.
The key for both sides looks, on paper, to be the form of each side’s spin contingents. With Bangladesh likely to throw up only spinning decks both sides have selected a plethora of spin bowling options. On a vodcast for a site I used to contribute to a couple of years ago I mentioned James Muirhead as a player to watch in the future and he certainly is that now that he is in the top squad in this form of the game. South Africa’s best spinner from the test matches was a part timer in JP Duminy and one expects him to get a lot of overs against the Australians along with Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso.
Nothing will beat the excitement of the test match series just completed, however this series will be one that both sides will wish to perform well in with the spoils of the T20 World Cup not too far away.