You might not have noticed‚ what with everything else going on‚ but South Africa start a series on their tour of England today.
It is the T20 rubber‚ which kicks off in Southampton before moving to Taunton on Friday and ending in Cardiff on Sunday.
That’s as short and sharp as these things get – and as they should be for what is an afterthought in a summer that has already seen a one-day series and the Champions Trophy‚ and has yet to reach its most important stage – next month’s four tests.
If there is any relevance to place on the T20s it will be to see how AB de Villiers fares after his underwhelming performance in the Champions Trophy.
De Villiers is again South Africa’s key batsman – even more so than in the one-day squad – and their captain. He will want to improve on the 20 runs he scored in three innings‚ not to mention presiding over two losses in three games‚ in the Champions Trophy.
In the third, a crunch encounter against India at The Oval last Sunday‚ De Villiers was run out after looking good for his 16‚ precipitating a collapse of eight wickets for 51 runs.
“I felt I was going to get 200 off five balls‚ and I got run out‚” he said.
De Villiers said the South Africans had endured “a tough few days after being knocked out‚ to go through that stage of reflecting and getting some of the criticism”. But he had moved on.
“It’s never easy, but I’ve always been the kind of guy to see the positive in that and the opportunity to improve‚” he said.
“These three matches give me that opportunity as a player and as a captain. “I just want to score some runs again and captain the team to a few good wins‚ hopefully. ”
The Champions Trophy was another in a long line of failures for South Africa’s fans‚ but they should not expect De Villiers to dwell on it as they might.
“I’m past that stage of harping on it for a long time‚” he said. “The difficult stage is the criticism‚ hearing the negative stuff all the time.
“But I’m past nagging about losing games of cricket‚ because that happens; it’s happened quite a few times.
“I’m not going to spend too much energy thinking about what happened in the last 10‚ 12 tournaments that I played in.”
De Villiers will hope his sentiments have rubbed off on the nine members of the Champions Trophy squad who will do duty in the T20s.
South Africa T20 squad: A B de Villiers (captain)‚ Farhaan Behardien‚ Reeza Hendricks‚ Imran Tahir‚ David Miller‚ Morne Morkel‚ Chris Morris‚ Mangaliso Mosehle‚ Wayne Parnell‚ Dane Paterson‚ Andile Phehlukwayo‚ Dwaine Pretorius‚ Tabraiz Shamsi‚ Jon-Jon Smuts.