The South African team can now have a break – sort of. Many players will be heading to India next week to start preparing for the IPL, but as far as national commitments are concerned Tuesday was the last day of the season and now there’s a fairly lengthy break until the England tour in July.
The trip to New Zealand was successful on a number of fronts. It was the first time Gary Kirsten and his coaching staff had some lengthy time with the squad – that should be squads because the playing personnel changed quite vastly from the limited overs formats to the Test side.
That’s the biggest change that occurred in New Zealand. A clear line is being drawn in the sand between the limited overs teams and the Test team. Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Morné Morkel, Marchant de Lange and Robin Peterson were the only players selected across all three formats. A total of 23 players were on tour at some point.
It’s important to recognise and become accustomed to that change because as Kirsten’s tenure as coach continues to evolve we will see players ‘specialising’ in one or other format. That’s not to say a Richard Levi can’t break his way into the Test team at some stage – just that, for now, his mind and his game won’t be cluttered by having to switch between the two formats.
Levi will be an important player for South Africa at T20 World Championships in September, just as Jacques Kallis will be a vital component of South Africa’s attempts to repeat their 2008 Test series successes in England and Australia.
Kallis sat out the final Test in Wellington with a stiff neck. His game time has been carefully managed over the summer. He was left out of the final three matches of the ODI series with Sri Lanka and didn’t play the T20s in New Zealand. He will, however, be a part of the IPL, which, with its heavy schedule, will place a lot of demands on the veteran all-rounder.
Here’s hoping Kirsten and Cricket SA have structured some sort of arrangement with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to properly manage Kallis’ workload over the two months of the IPL.
With due respect to New Zealand cricket, the tour there was the easiest of South Africa’s assignments this year. While a great deal of structural changes will be taking place within Cricket SA’s administration, on the field the players will need to uphold the reputation of the sport and the best way to do that is to achieve high-profile successes in England, Sri Lanka and Australia. And for that they needed fresh and fully fit players. – The Star