Mitchell Marsh to Lead Australia in T20 Series Against South Africa, Eyes Permanent T20 Captaincy
Mitchell Marsh to Lead Australia in T20 Series Against South Africa, Eyes Permanent T20 Captaincy

New Delhi: As the temporary T20 captain for Australia's tour of South Africa, Mitchell Marsh is now in the running to fill the position permanently before the World Cup in 2014.

Spencer Johnson, a left-arm fast bowler from South Australia, has been called up for the first time to the international team, joining all-rounders Aaron Hardie and Matt Short. The three-match series, which begins in late August, will mark Australia's first T20 matches since the World Cup, where the hosts were eliminated in the group stage.

Aaron Finch retired from international competition earlier this year, and Marsh now fills the void left by Finch, though his appointment is only for the three matches in South Africa. After this year's ODI World Cup, where Australia will be captained by Pat Cummins, the selectors will decide on the long-term captain. There is a good chance they will combine the white-ball and ODI captaincy under one name, putting Marsh in a strong position to lead in both formats.

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"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."

Following the Ashes, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, and David Warner will join for the ODIs after being rested from the T20Is. Steven Smith is included, though, and Bailey said that as a result of his outstanding BBL performances for the Sydney Sixers last season, he will start against South Africa. Ashton Agar will be available for the one-day matches despite being unable to play in the T20Is as he recovers from a calf strain.

The three new players in the T20I squad have all had successful seasons in the BBL prior to joining the team. When Johnson played at the end of games for Brisbane Heat, he had a breakout season. He then carried over that success to South Australia's Sheffield Shield campaign.

With 460 runs scored at a strike rate of 141.10 during the tournament, Perth Scorchers player Hardie led all scorers. Short was just barely second with 458 runs scored at a strike rate of 144.47. As a result of his 11 wickets and player of the season performance in the BBL, Short signed an IPL contract with Punjab Kings. Hardie will also be a member of the team for the ODI matches in India and South Africa.

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Jason Behrendorff, a left-armer, is back in the international scene and might play his first T20 Internationals since the West Indies tour 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."

Matthew Wade and Kane Richardson, who competed in the T20 World Cup last year, were not selected. However, Bailey stated that he expected Wade to play in the series against India that will follow the ODI World Cup, and the South Africa tour was seen as a chance to give Josh Inglis some playing time.

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

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