With England and South Africa both smarting from exiting the fifty-over ICC Champions Trophy prematurely earlier this month, they will be glad of the chance to move on to a new format and to put their disappointments behind them.
The sides play four Test matches later in the summer, but before that comes a full three-game T20 International series, with games scheduled to be played at The Rose Bowl, Southampton (Weds 21st June); Somerset’s County Ground in Taunton (Fri 23rd June); and Sophia Gardens in Cardiff (Sunday 25th June)
Neither side have played a T20 international since February, and both are resting several key men from their squads for these encounters. England are without first-choice players Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jake Ball, while South Africa are resting a similar number of top players in their usual T20 captain Faf du Plessis as well as Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy and Kagiso Rabada.
There are potential international debuts (in any format) for no less than five players in England’s squad – batsmen Liam Livingstone (Lancashire) and Dawis Malan (Middlesex), spinner Mason Crane (Hampshire) and quick bowlers Tom Curran (Surrey) and Craig Overton (Somerset). For their part, South Africa could hand T20I caps to spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and quick bowler Dwaine Pretorius.
With so much change from their usual squads, it is probably somewhat irrelevant that England are currently ranked second in the world in the shortest format as compared to the Proteas sixth place, and the fact that England won the ODI series 2-1 in May will count for little either. But both teams will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Individually, the players to watch out for as they approach personal milestones are as follows:
England’s white-ball skipper currently has 1,568 T20 International runs to his credit, which is enough to see him in 11th place in the world for runs scored in the format. Such is the tight nature of the race ahead of him that 123 runs in the series could see Morgan rocket up the ladder to sixth place in the world, passing Pakistanis Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaid Mailk (1620 and 1626 in 10th and 9th respectively); the Proteas’s rested JP Duminy in 8th on 1684; Aussie David Warner in 7th on 1687; and another Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal in 6th on 1691.
England’s wicketkeeper has 943 T20I runs, so another 57 will see him pass the 1000 milestone
Opening batsman Hales is the only England player yet to score a t20I century – one more will see him join New Zealander Brendon McCullum and Universe Boss Chris Gayle as the only players in the world with two hundreds in the 20-over game.
The South Africa spinner is currently the world’s highest ranked T20I bowler. He has 54 T20 International wickets in his ledger already, putting him in joint 11th place in the world alongside Sohail Tanvir and Dwayne Bravo. Another 5 wickets will see him move into joint tenth place alongside compatriot Dale Steyn and Blackcap Nathan McCullum, while six will see him into joint ninth place with Afghanistani all-rounder Mohammad Nabi.
Imran is one of six bowlers to have taken three four-wicket hauls in T20s – another such performance would move him joint first in the world with Pakistanis Unmar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, who both have four four-fors.