Proteas owe it to fans to be competitive, says Nkwe
Nkwe has been a quiet bystander since returning from India, looking on from the side line as Cricket South have drifted from one crisis to the next. It was almost forgotten that the Proteas lost 3-0 to the World No 1 India during Nkwe’s first tour in charge of the national team. But with matters slowly starting to be addressed at CSA’s plush “HQ” in Illovo, Nkwe believes the time is right to focus on what’s happening on the field again.
“A lot has transpired over the past few months and not being involved in the Mzansi Super League has been a bit strange, but it has given me the opportunity to look at the global cricket landscape,” Nkwe said.
“I’ve looked closely at the world game and seen what the other guys are doing, and whether we could possibly learn from them and incorporate into our game. I am very excited by the performances of our players too. We owe it to all South Africans. We have to do it for our country. The Proteas are a proud cricketing nation and we want to be ready when England arrive.”
Being “ready” could be tough task for Nkwe and his management team. All the leading players in SA have only been playing T20 cricket during the Mzansi Super League. Although the modern player is adept to switching formats in a short space of time, there is a growing concern that the likely Test bowlers have not had sufficient bowling time out in the middle ahead of the Test series.
It is even a greater concern considering that the Proteas will play back-to-back Test matches - Boxing Day and New Year’s - with very little mileage in their bowlers’ legs. Talisman Kagiso Rabada has had to be content with only four mandatory overs, while fellow seamers Vernon Philander, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have not even played every game in the Mzansi Super League due to the composition of their respective teams on occasion.
With all three having suffered injuries last season, there is a real fear that their current low workloads may put their fragile bodies under strain when the intensity increases for a longer period of time.
“The support staff have been monitoring all our players and are working very hard behind the scenes to ensure the bowlers do bowl the amount of overs they need to, and to get their workloads up,” Nkwe said.
“That should allow them to adapt a lot easier. Obviously, there is nothing like game time to get miles in the legs and hopefully there are a few opportunities before Boxing Day to get the boys ready.”
The tourists play two warm-up games against a SA Invitational XI and SA A side prior to the first Test at Centurion on 26 December. Equally, there is one full round of Four-Day Franchise Series fixtures before the first Test. Nkwe could not commit to whether the entire Proteas Test squad would play in a four-day fixture before Boxing Day, but that the two tour matches would be utilised for some players to find some red-ball form.
“Those matches are obviously something we are looking (at). The Director of Cricket post is being finalised soon, so those are the types of conversations that we will be having and looking how we (are) going to plot for the future,” he said.