Remaining focused on the job at hand might prove rather difficult for the Proteas
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CAPE TOWN - STAYING in the present might be easier said than done for the Proteas’ Men’s team on their limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka.
For the players, priority No. 1 over the coming weeks is the second leg of the tour, which comprises three T20I’s at the R. Premadasa Stadium, which form part of the team’s final preparations ahead of the upcoming World T20 in the UAE.
Indeed, it is the primary objective of why they are in Sri Lanka, with the preceding three ODI’s at the same venue merely an opportunity to acclimatise to the conditions.
However, remaining focused on the job at hand might prove rather cumbersome. Although coach Mark Boucher addressed the squad prior to departure from OR Tambo that he would be submitting his affidavit related to his role in alleged racist behaviour to the Social Justice and Nation building hearings in the hope that “distraction from the tour could be kept to a minimum”, there is simply no hiding from the chaos that has erupted.
Coupled with the shock resignation of assistant coach Enoch Nkwe, citing "concerns about the functioning and culture of the team environment", just days before the plane was boarded for Colombo, has placed the spotlight firmly on the Proteas’ for all reasons but cricket.
“I’m sure he (Nkwe) has his reasons and just like he wishes us well for the future, we do the same to him. This is sport and these kinds of things can happen so we just have to move forward now and I’m sure the guys will be in touch with him,” spinner Tabraiz Shamsi said upon the team’s arrival.
Shamsi, is of course, one of the senior players within this Proteas set-up, and who in the recent past has been very vocal on issues related to team culture. But with the outside noise possibly at its loudest now, he will have to work overtime to get his mind in the game, and that of particularly his less experienced teammates.
He does believe, though, that if they remain mentally strong and execute their skills, particularly the bowling unit, the Proteas can continue the white-ball success they have managed to achieve in Sri Lanka previously.
“I do believe we have one of the best bowling attacks in the world and all we need is a bit of game time because the talent in the squad is there,” Shamsi said.
“We might be a bit inexperienced at international level but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the skill. We showcased that against a strong West Indies team and against Ireland as well.”
The first ODI is scheduled for next Thursday, September 2.