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Bloemfontein – A Test series win and T20 loss are irrelevant for the Proteas at this stage as the national cricket team have their focus on the five-match ODI Series against Pakistan starting in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The Proteas arrived in the City of Roses on Thursday and coach Gary Kirsten said that they had been focusing strictly on ensuring that their sides across all three formats have enough depth to allow his players to rest without it being a catastrophe.
His team are likely to start the series without Morné Morkel but, apart from that, Kirsten said it was all systems go ahead of Sunday’s outing.
“Morne is doing okay but we will need to take a look at him and assess his condition. I don’t think he’ll be in action on Sunday but he should come in at some point. Other than that we are glad to have no injuries to speak of going into the ODIs.
The Proteas are currently the top Test team but their loss to Pakistan in Sunday’s T20 in Centurion may have cast some doubt on their limited-overs prowess. Kirsten said on Thursday that they were tackling each format in a different way and, considering that they have an extensive break before their next five-dayer, the next few months were a crucial time for his side to show their character.
“We approach all three formats differently. So for the ODIs we have our own set of goals. It’s going to be quite some time before our next Test outing and we are going to play close to 20 shorter games before the next one.”
Much of the side’s focus will be on flourishing at the ICC Champions trophy in June but for now the Pakistanis will give them a good opportunity to gauge where they stand in terms of competing. With a loss to the Black Caps in their most recent ODI Series, Kirsten’s team certainly have something to prove.
Pakistan are in much the same boat after hardly impressing in their warm-up game against the South African Invitational side in Kimberley on Wednesday evening when they won by a single wicket with only two balls remaining.
Kirsten didn’t seem too concerned with this result which had little effect on his side and said that it was simply business as usual.
“We didn’t really read anything into the game in Kimberley. I didn’t see it so, other than the scores that I read, I know very little about what happened.”
The coach said that his players loved ODIs but they do not get to play many. “We have such a full calendar that we don’t really play that many. In fact, if I look back at the 20-odd months that I have been coach, I think we have only played about 15.”
Kirsten added that the main aim at this stage wasn’t to find the top 11 players in the country but rather to have a larger group who are ready for action at any given time and can gel as a unit.
“We are looking for combinations and not just strictly the best 11 guys all the time. Players need to be coming through and we are looking for a group of 17 or 18 that we can shift around as required and so we can be comfortable resting any players as they need it.” – The Star