PORT ELIZABETH - The dust has hardly settled on the gripping finish to the Test series, but already both South Africa and Australia have switched to Twenty20 mode. Most of Australia's Test cricketers are gone, with only three members of the victorious squad required for these three matches, while South Africa's T20 outfit features much greater crossover. And while the Test series was no doubt the major event of this tour, the T20s take on extra significance given the proximity to the World T20 in Bangladesh. Neither South Africa nor Australia have ever won the World T20 and when this series finishes, the first match of the world tournament for each side will be less than ten days away.
Australia have strong recent form behind them after beating England 3-0, but it is hard to tell how greatly that result was affected by England's general malaise by the end of their Ashes tour. The Australian selectors have trusted form and experience over youth, recalling veterans Brad Hogg and Brad Hodge, although they have also tossed green legspinner James Muirhead in at the deep end. South Africa have not played a T20 since November and they have in their squad uncapped fast bowler Beuran Hendricks and the allrounder Albie Morkel, who last played for his country at the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. Both teams might just have some tinkering to do in these three games.
South Africa hope David Miller will be one of the emerging stars of the World T20 in Bangladesh. At 24 he has already played 19 T20s for his country but is yet to really show his best at T20 international level. A brutal striker of the ball, Miller has experience in domestic T20 leagues in four countries and the Australians cannot afford to underestimate him in this series.
Brad Hogg will become the oldest man ever to play a T20 international if he features in this series. At 43, Hogg will break the record set by Steve Tikolo of Kenya, who was 42 when he last turned out for his country in November last year. Hogg was a surprise recall for the previous World T20 in Sri Lanka and has not played for Australia since then, but his canny spin for the Perth Scorchers made him a tempting choice for the selectors with another World T20 in Asian conditions. Hogg remains athletic in the field and as enthusiastic as ever, and his wrong'un remains tough to pick. Dale Steyn will miss at least the first two matches due to the hamstring strain he suffered in the third Test and Kyle Abbott has been called into the squad as cover. Wayne Parnell and Beuran Hendricks also face fitness tests ahead of the opening game.
Mitchell Johnson was part of the squad and will join the rest of the group for the World T20 but has been sent home to rest after the Test series. Australia's most recent T20s, against England, were played without key men David Warner and Shane Watson, so their return will force some reworking of the batting line-up.
Port Elizabeth provided the slowest surface of the three Tests and the same may be true of the T20s. In the last T20 international held at the venue, South Africa batted first and scored 179 for 6, which New Zealand failed to chase down. There is the chance of light rain on Sunday and the top temperature is forecast to be 19C.
AUSTRALIA: George Bailey (capt), Daniel Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wk), Moises Henriques, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
SOUTH AFRICA: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.