CAPE TOWN – Defending champions Australia may be preparing for their World Cup challenge on the Turkish battlefields of Gallipoli in search of the inspiration, but the Proteas chose the more serene settings of Table Mountain on Tuesday.
Having last been all together back in middle March, the Proteas completed a hike up the picturesque mountain to collectively find the path that will ultimately lead to glory in the United Kingdom over the next two months.
“We have been away from each other for a long time. One thing I really enjoy about this group is that when we come together, we really come together.
“So, last night, we all reconnected. There was lots of ‘bromance’ going on. Lots of hugging and that sort of stuff. It was awesome,” Proteas coach Ottis Gibson told the media on Tuesday.
“It is a challenge, but it is also exciting to be involved in the World Cup. Even for the older players like Hashim and JP, who has already said this is going to be his last, so for them it means one thing.
“But for a young guy like Aiden or Rabada, who are making their first appearance at a World Cup, it means something else. It is going to be special, and it’s our job to make the journey special for every person.”
It was clear that Gibson was in good spirits.
He was particularly pleased with the form his senior players like captain Faf du Plessis, wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock, leg-spinner Imran Tahir and ace fast bowler Kagiso Rabada showed in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League.
However, the biggest smile was kept for the fact that Rabada and veteran seam bowler Dale Steyn should be ready for the opening game against hosts England at The Oval on May 30, after returning from the IPL with a niggle injuries.
“There was an issue with KG, there was an issue with Dale, but we feel those guys are on track. There is nothing that people should be alarmed that they not going to make full recoveries,” Gibson said.
The Proteas mentor was also not perturbed with the rustiness Hashim Amla showed on his return to cricket from a leave of absence for the Cape Cobras in the T20 Challenge, which ultimately prompted Amla to return to Durban to work in isolation with batting coach Dale Benkenstein.
“Hash just wanted to get away from the T20 bubble, where he felt you needed to hit every ball. He felt that it was hampering his own preparation and mindset of playing in England. He has, of course, a very good record of playing in England, so he wanted to get back to working on his technical stuff,” Gibson said.
“He was working with Benky in regards to conditions and facing the new ball in England. He has done it many times before.
“He knows what it’s all about, and we felt that it was important to give him the space to do that. There was no real dramas from removing him from that T20 environment.
Calling on all Proteas fans to be as passionate in supporting their team as @ImranTahirSA is about winning games for 🇿🇦!— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) May 14, 2019
Immy averages 16.31 in the global tourney, it’s also 1⃣6⃣ days before the #CWC19 begins#ItsMoreThanCricket #ProteaFire
“Batsmen that try to score off every ball in England usually come up short, and we have seen Hash score huge amounts in England, and he has his own way about going about it.”
The Proteas will be in Cape Town for another day before heading up to Pretoria for a skilled-base camp at the High Performance Centre, ahead of their departure to the United Kingdom on Sunday.@ZaahierAdams