Following a challenging Matador BBQs One-Day Cup campaign with the Cricket Australia XI, Matthew Short says he can’t wait to test himself against the might of South Africa this weekend.
The 20-year-old Victorian allrounder will captain the CA XI against the Proteas in a two-day tour match at Adelaide Oval this weekend, leading a side featuring Australia’s top emerging talent aged 22 or under.
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Taking on the likes of international stars Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn would be an intimidating prospect for any young player, but Short is eagerly anticipating what he sees as an "exciting opportunity".
"Being young, you’ve got so many opportunities now in cricket and so many challenges to take head-on," Short told cricket.com.au.
"All you can do is do your best - you never know what will happen. You can really match some of these first class teams and international teams.
"You’re always going to come up against quality players, whether they’re international players or state players.
"It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to be a really good experience to see how they go about their business. I’m sure the boys and myself will learn a lot out of this match."
Short will captain a side featuring another nine players who represented the CA XI in this year’s Matador Cup, while many of the squad also played together for the National Performance Squad against Australia A, South Africa A and India A during the Quadrangular A series during the winter.
That experience means Short is very familiar with the weapons he'll have at his disposal, including 17-year-old Queensland quick Xavier Bartlett and 18-year-old NSW Blues spinner Arjun Nair.
"I think that’s the best thing about these development teams - you always run into each other a few times throughout the year.
"You grow up together and play together a few times.
"It’s good to have that knowledge in the back of your head about each individual and what roles they can play in the game, I’ll definitely have a few plans up my sleeves and use different guys at different times throughout the match."
While the CA XI didn’t win a game in this year’s edition of the Matador Cup - having knocked off Tasmania in their first appearance at the tournament last summer - they did come close against the NSW Blues, Queensland Bulls and Western Warriors.
Short said he believed the side had been more competitive this season and hoped that confidence would crossover into into the South Africa match.
"It’s been a really good learning curve for a lot of us young guys," he said.
"Although we didn’t get any wins, I think we competed well and were courageous in showing a skill-set and really taking it up to a few of the other teams.
"The good thing this year is we competed a lot better. It was a bit more enjoyable not getting those heavy defeats this year, although there were a couple, we really took it up to a few teams and probably in the end should have had a couple of wins."
CA XI squad: Matthew Short (c, Vic), Arjun Nair (NSW), Josh Inglis (WA), Ryan Gibson (NSW), Sam Harper (Vic), Ben McDermott (Tas), James Bazley (Qld), Brendan Doggett (Qld), Ryan Lees (Tas), Xavier Bartlett (Qld), Thomas O'Donnell (Vic), Kyle Gardiner (WA)
Coach: Greg Blewett Assistant Coach: Luke Williams
South Africa Test squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Morne Morkel, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Dane Vilas.