The Proteas’ build-up towards next year’s World Cup in England arguably begins in earnest when the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka starts on Sunday.
The national selectors have assembled a squad that isn’t overly experienced, especially in the bowling stakes – pointing perhaps to some experimentation that’s going to take place.
Yet the ultimate goal is still a series win.
Here are five key players in that regard.
Retirement from Test cricket was supposed to revive his international career given that he can now concentrate on his preferred format.
It hasn’t really gone to plan.
The experienced left-hander’s form has been suspect at best, with just one fifty from his last 20 ODI innings.
But with AB de Villiers out of the picture, his wisdom is going to be vital and there’s still the tantalising prospect that he can still contribute with his off-spin.
Time is surely running out though if he underperforms again.
Yes, Keshav Maharaj is the undisputed No 1 spinner for the Proteas in Tests but the same can’t be said in white-ball cricket.
Granted, the first-choice candidate in Imran Tahir is not on this tour though it’s quite easy to argue that Shamsi is the best one-day spinner in the country.
The left-arm wrist spinner took 41 wickets in last season’s domestic one-day and T20 competitions, substantially ahead of anyone else.
On Thursday, he scalped three victims in a warm-up match.
Shamsi is going to be vital to South Africa’s cause.
Already a bit lower on confidence after a challenging Test series, Markram now faces the prospect of being the preferred candidate (at least initially) to fill AB de Villiers’ No 4 spot.
The middle-order isn’t really the 23-year-old’s thing (yet) and one wonders if his in the right state of mind for adapting to this position currently.
It can’t be denied though that Markram possesses the all-round game to attack or consolidate depending on the match context, especially if the spinners bog the Proteas down in the middle overs.
South Africa’s star fast bowler showed in the Galle Test that he’s a man for all conditions and relishes leading the attack.
There’s no denying his ability to continue doing that but he won’t have a Morne Morkel or Chris Morris to assist him in terms of experience.
Instead, he’s leading a seam attack that has exactly 30 international caps between them, of which one – Andile Phehlukwayo – has 25.
Rabada’s going to have be really mature in this series.
His record speaks for itself – 7 535 runs at an average of over 50.
So, it’s only obvious that he’s a key man.
However, if Amla’s slump continues there are consequences on two fronts.
Firstly, the Proteas will be missing out on vital runs from a reliable performer.
And secondly, he could actually lose his place as a man like Reeza Hendricks is knocking on the door after a fine domestic season and a fluent 59 in the warm-up game.