Johannesburg — The Proteas camp underway in Durban is the start of a long preparation for the Australia series and the World Cup, but the DoC is also prioritising the SA ‘A’ program as well.
The Proteas have Australia and the current defending world champions England in their first four World Cup fixtures.
Cricket SA Director of Cricket Enoch Nkwe was not surprised at all at the intensity of South Africa’s World Cup fixtures.
“It’s as expected, it’s the World Cup after all,” Nkwe told IOL Sport in an exclusive interview.
“We have to make sure that we take care of the processes that we’ve put in place leading up to the World Cup.
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re well conditioned in all aspects that we can think of to allow our players to compete at their best throughout the World Cup.
“We know we will play everyone at the World Cup, be it Australia or the current defending champions England, we have to back what really works for us and find ways to get over the line.” He added.
The DoC confirmed that the camp in Durban which started earlier this week is just a start as Rob Walter’s men look to fine tune their style of play and also their team identity.
Nkwe told IOL Sport that there’d be another camp in August to cater for the players who will not be playing in the Major League Cricket T20 league in the United States.
The DoC expressed that it is positive news that some of the key Proteas players will be getting time in the field in a highly competitive competition.
“We are looking for one or two camps in August,” said Nkwe.
“But luckily for us there will be a number of players who will be playing in the leagues around the world, so they will be active doing what they need to be doing.
“Like I said, the system will create environments for players to be in top shape and ready for when we host Australia.” He added.
The Proteas men’s and women’s teams are not the only priority for the DoC, in fact, the whole pipeline is part of his scope of work.
The SA ‘A’ side has just returned from Sri Lanka and with them they brought the silverware and trophy for the 50-Over series that they won.
It is important to note that there were a number of promising signs from a number of players that were on tour.
From Tristan Stubbs’ consistent performances in both the white-ball and red-ball series’, to Senuran Muthusamy's and Dewald Brevis’ top performances, the ‘A’ side certainly reassured South Africa that there are players in the fringes ready to take up spots in the senior men’s side.
Were there any negatives? Yes, there were plenty, especially in the red-ball series.
The ‘A’ side did not score a single 300-plus score in the two 4-Day matches that they played in Sri Lanka, and as a result, they lost the series 1-0 with one drawn match.
Nkwe though, argued that the tour was about more than just winning the series’.
“The coach made it clear upfront that we were going there to compete but the focus was in more than just winning, the key was for us to strengthen our pipeline,” said Nkwe.
“The biggest aspect was the way the guys went about the entire tour especially with them winning the One Day series. For us it was important that this group of players were exposed to international standards.
“I mean, for the likes of (Tristan) Stubbs, it was important for us to see how he was going to respond in the longer format at international level.
“All in all, it was a positive response from the group and hopefully in the future these guys will give us headaches in terms of selecting teams for the senior men’s side.” He added.
The international calendar is already packed and the schedule for most of the senior Proteas players is very busy with their commitments to the T20 leagues around the world.
Taking this into account, Nkwe and his team plan on prioritising the SA ‘A’ program to ensure that there are players waiting in the fringes ready to make the step up to the senior men’s side.
The only way to do that is to organise more ‘A’ tours for the best domestic players to get a taste of international cricket.
“We do understand that the ‘A’ program is our number one priority,” said Nkwe.
“We are looking at another ‘A’ tour. We’ll continue to engage with the ICC members across the globe and obviously we have to look for a window for these guys to get this type of exposure. We’d like to get to a point where there’s a lot of cricket at the ‘A” level as well.” He concluded.