Aussie T20 rookie Johnson earmarked for Starc-like role

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Australian Twenty20 debutant Spencer Johnson is being earmarked for a fast-bowling strike role similar to Mitchell Starc in the three-game series against South Africa.

The left-arm quick will join Aaron Hardie and Matt Short in making their Australian debut in game one in Durban starting on Thursday at 0200 AEST.

The series heralds a new Australian era in the shortest format with Mitchell Marsh to captain after replacing the retired Aaron Finch.

Australia's largely inexperienced 14-man squad features a pace brigade including Johnson, Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorf and Nathan Ellis.

Batsman Travis Head is backing fellow South Australian Johnson to flourish in a new-ball role similar to Starc.

"I am looking forward to him getting his opportunity ... it (international selection) has probably come a little bit quicker than expected," Head said.

"He is someone who bowls a high speed and can swing the new ball.

"Hopefully he can be that guy for us at the top of the bowling innings, someone similar to Starcy for us - be able to be a match-winner with taking wickets.

"It will be nice to see him get international experience and have a crack at it."

Head described the three-game T20 series as an important step, off-field and on, for Australia's white-ball cricketers with the 50-over World Cup starting in India in early October.

The Australians will play five ODIs against the South Africans following the T20 series.

"Winning is important but you're not going to win a World Cup in South Africa, you're going to win it in India come the end of November," Head said.

"So really important that we connect well as a group, we look after each other, we have a really good time, we enjoy each other's company, we train well and then we play well.

"It's all about timing our run a little bit probably but no doubt we want to win games and play well.

"It's a nice feeling in the camp when you can win games of cricket so that will be the aim.

"But at the end of the day making sure that the environment is in a good space so when we get to India we can really nail down what we want to achieve at the end of that World Cup."

Australian team for game one:

Mitch Marsh (capt), Sean Abbott, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Aaron Hardie, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Matt Short, Marcus Stoinis, Adam Zampa.