DUANNE Olivier believes South Africa can not only hurt England over the next few weeks, but also go on and claim their maiden world title at next year’s T20 World Cup in India.

The Yorkshire quick expects England to have an advantage ahead of three T20s and three one-day internationals, starting on Friday, because they have already played international cricket since the coronavirus pandemic halted sport and the hosts haven’t.

But that advantage, says Olivier, will be minimal given the domestic cricket the South Africans have been playing.

The 28-year-old is confident the Proteas have enough firepower to break their duck on the world stage at the next T20 World Cup in October, highlighting the special talent of fellow pacer Kagiso Rabada and admitting it would be a huge boost if talk of AB De Villiers coming out of retirement comes to fruition.

Two of the three T20s are being played at the iconic Newlands ground in Cape Town, this Friday and next Tuesday, with the other at Boland Park in Paarl - where Dawid Malan grew up and made his first-class debut in 2006.

Malan is one of three Yorkshire players in England’s T20 squad alongside Jonny Bairstow and Adil Rashid.

Joe Root will then replace Malan in England’s squad for the three ODIs, also at Cape Town and Paarl, from Friday, December 4.

Olivier, who won 10 Test and two ODI caps for the Proteas, said: “England may have a bit of an advantage, but the South African domestic season has started and a lot of the international guys have been playing at the IPL.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty even match-up, and it will be a very exciting contest between both sets of bowlers. That could be the key.

“It will be a good contest between two good sides. England have obviously played more cricket, but a number of their players have had a break since the end of their summer.

“It was great to have international cricket back in England this summer. There was such a buzz. And it will be the same in South Africa. It’s been so long since they’ve played, and it promises to be a good home summer if they can get all of the games in.

“Fans aren’t allowed back in stadiums yet, but they will be able to watch it on TV.

“South Africa are a very good side, with a lot of young guys coming through pushing for places.

“The experience in the likes of KG (Kagiso Rabada), Quinton de Kock, David Miller and Faf du Plessis will be important in steering that.

“A few guys are retiring, and the Proteas are in a bit of a rebuilding phase, quite similar to how England were a few years ago with Eoin Morgan leading it after the World Cup (in Australia in 2015).

“T20s are so unpredictable. Anything can happen on any given day, and I do believe they can win the next World T20. As long as they stick to the basics and peak at the right time, which is crucial, they have a chance.

“Look at the IPL. Bangalore peaked early and struggled at the back end, whereas (champions) Mumbai were different.”

Rabada finished the recent IPL as the competition’s leading wicket-taker, with 30 for runners-up Delhi. Fellow South African quick Anrich Nortje was fourth on that list, also for Delhi, with 22.

Rabada is one of world cricket’s most exciting talents along with England’s Jofra Archer.

“KG just keeps things as simple as possible,” said former team-mate Olivier. “He doesn’t overthink things.

“He has pace and an x-factor. He trusts his instincts 100 per cent and believes in himself.

“There will be days when it works and days when it doesn’t, but he still believes every single day. That is the most important thing for any fast bowler - belief.”

De Villiers, 36, has retired from international cricket and played his last Test Match in April 2018 and his last T20 in October 2017. But talk persists of his return to the T20 side.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what is happening,” added Olivier.

“I have read articles and heard rumours. But having AB in the team would make a massive difference. He would get in any side in the world.

“If he does get picked, it would be a great addition to the side. I think any fan of any team would want to see him back playing international cricket.”

The two sides met in three T20s and three ODIs in South Africa at the start of the year. The ODI series finished 1-1, while England won the T20s 2-1. These next few weeks promise to be just as closely fought.