Former Proteas coach Gary Kirsten was not a great believer in warm-up matches. In essence, Kirsten felt they were a bit of a waste of time.
The Proteas will be hoping their hit-out against Afghanistan today at the Greenfield International Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram will at least be more worthwhile, especially in terms of running off the jet lag and getting a taste of the conditions they can expect over the next two months as they zig-zag across India.
They will have to do so without their captain Temba Bavuma today and in the subsequent warm-up match against New Zealand on Monday too, after he was forced to return home due to “family reasons”.
Bavuma is hoping to be back for the 50-over World Cup opener against Sri Lanka in Delhi next Saturday.
T20 captain Aiden Markram will lead the team in Bavuma’s absence, with Reeza Hendricks pencilled in to open the innings with Quinton de Kock.
The adjustment to Indian conditions should not be too much as the majority of the Proteas have played in the IPL this year, while South Africa have also played 11 white-ball internationals in the country since the beginning of last year.
Senior fast bowler Kagiso Rabada certainly believes the team will be well prepared for the challenge that awaits.
“It does help when you understand the conditions in the various grounds, and having played in India for all these years, it gives you a familiarity on how to go about your tactics,” Rabada said.
“The majority of our team has played in India, but for those who haven’t played as much, it is important to share experiences.
“In India you have drier conditions and they are batter-friendly wickets, so it’s about finding ways to be successful.”
The Greenfield International Stadium will certainly not be overflowing with spectators for the warm-up match, but Rabada feels that the bigger adaptation for some of the players will be dealing with the frenzied atmosphere inside some of the grounds when the Proteas eventually do get their World Cup campaign underway.
“Managing the noise and distractions is really important and I think it’s just about focus and not letting the crowd get to you,” he said.
“But at the same time, it is exciting to be playing in packed stadiums with tens of thousands of screaming fans - it’s an honour.”
Rabada, who will need to shoulder the majority of the responsibility of leading the Proteas bowling attack in the absence of the injured Anrich Nortje, believes he is also personally better prepared for this World Cup after a chastening experience four years ago in the United Kingdom.
“The 2019 World Cup was my first and I wasn’t successful at all,” Rabada said. “The lesson I took from that is that team cohesion is the most important factor, because individuals don’t win World Cups, teams do.
“The older I have become and the more caps I have, the more I realise that I am a leader in that environment.
“Through knowing my own strengths and reinforcing them, knowing what makes me tick and through lending an ear to other players, I want to help set how we play as a collective.”