Kagiso Rabada has been training with the rest of his Lions teammates this week. Picture: BackpagePix
Kagiso Rabada has been training with the rest of his Lions teammates this week. Picture: BackpagePix

'It doesn't look like players haven't batted, bowled for three months'

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jul 1, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Wandile Gwavu says the excitement at being able to conduct training sessions outdoors has overridden the other challenges that come with practising cricket in the changed environment brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Highveld Lions head coach has been overseeing training sessions with the Kagiso Rabada, Dwaine Pretorius, Temba Bavuma, Tabraiz Shamsi and Reeza Hendricks this week, after Cricket South Africa were given the go ahead by the SA government to resume training following an easing of lockdown measures.

From Wendesday that quintet will be joined by Rassie van der Dussen, with the players along with Gwavu and his coaching staff all adhering to some strict measures to enforce social distancing.

“It has been challenging, but the excitement of coming back has overshadowed that. I’m just happy to be back at the office, and to be back outside working with the players,” Lions coach Gwavu said.

Among the measures being enforced at the Wanderers include players coming to nets in groups of two, each with their own net, with the bowlers each being given their own box of balls to utilise.

“We are trying our best to separate them; so if the first guy comes in at 10am to work until 11am, the other guys don’t arrive until at least 12 minutes after he’s left, so that they don’t cross, meet each other and then end up chatting,” Gwavu said.

“Even when they are changing kit they are not allowed into the changeroom, so they are doing so outside, close to the nets.”

Last week was dedicated to strength and conditioning work, and this week’s sessions Gwavu said were skills based.

“I think these guys have been lying to us,” Gwavu laughed. “They’ve been practicing somewhere. It doesn’t look like they’ve not batted and bowled for three months.

“Look, skillwise they are not where they would normally be, they’re not match ready, not close to that, but they’re hitting the ball well, and the bowlers are not as bad as I expected them to be. They’ve surprised themselves a bit too, but I think that may also just be down to the fact they are able to be outside and practice again.”

While Proteas coach Mark Boucher, hasn’t demanded anything specific of the players this week, Gwavu said he would be starting video sessions next week, to give the players an opportunity to assess rhythm and bowling actions.

“There’s no need to take videos of guys who haven’t bowled for three months, this week is about going back to basics and getting the rustiness out. I’ll definitely link up with Boucher next week about what he wants to work on and do the same with the players. Once he is happy we can take it from there,” Gwavu said.

CSA announced on Monday that a 45-player high performance squad could resume training, “in accordance with the guidelines set out by the CSA Covid-19 steering committee and approved by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD).”

“We engaged with the NICD who were comfortable with our protocols and responses to their queries for further details in some respects,” said CSA’s chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra.

“Our prevention programme, besides the regular testing of players and support staff, is predicated on personal hygiene measures and creating a sanitised ecosystem. Covid-19 compliance managers at each venue have assumed responsibility to ensure all the elements of the protocol are implemented.”

CSA Men’s High Performance Training Squad:

Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Junior Dala, Theunis de Bruyn, Rassie van der Dussen, Shaun von Berg, Dwaine Pretorius, Henrich Klaasen, Temba Bavuma, Reeza Hendricks, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Wiaan Mulder, Bjorn Fortuin, Andile Phehlukwayo, David Miller, Sarel Erwee, Khaya Zondo, Daryn Dupavillon, Keshav Maharaj, Senuran Muthusamy, Keagan Petersen, Imran Tahir, Lutho Sipamla, Edward Moore, Anrich Nortje, Sisanda Magala, Glenton Stuurman, Jon-Jon Smuts, Rudi Second, Pite van Biljon, Raynaard van Tonder, Gerald Coetzee, Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza, Janneman Malan, Faf du Plessis, Tony de Zorzi, Beuran Hendricks, Nandre Burger, George Linde, Kyle Verreynne, Marques Ackerman.


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