Three main objectives for Shukri Conrad’s SA A squad

Tony de Zorzi will captain the South Africa A squad for their tour to Sri Lanka

FILE - Tony de Zorzi will captain the South Africa A squad for their tour to Sri Lanka. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Published May 31, 2023


Gqeberha — The bigger picture to the SA A Tour of Sri Lanka is to test the competence of SA cricket’s domestic structure in relation to world standards, to lengthen batting options and to give opportunities to deserving players in the domestic circuit.

IOL Sport’s Ongama Gcwabe looks at the three key objectives.

Testing competence of domestic structure

The biggest and most exciting element to the SA A tour of Sri Lanka which will get under way on Sunday, is the fact that the competence of the SA domestic set-up will be put to the Test in what is usually a tough place to tour.

As we have witnessed many times in the past 12 months or so, performing domestically is not comparable to performing in international cricket. The gap between the two levels is just too big.

This tour will reveal where SA cricket is in terms of its competence in producing quality cricketers who have potential to make it to the Proteas in the near future and that is what has been needed to close the domestic-international cricket gap.

Lengthening top-six batting options

“The tour is a stepping stone in our overall strategy to increase the depth of players within our pipeline,” said Cricket SA director of cricket, Enoch Nkwe, upon the announcement of the 15-man squad.

In the long list of challenges the Test squad has had to face over the last year, none has been as concerning as the lack of runs from top-six batters.

As a result, three top-six batters who played against Australia last December, were dropped by coach Conrad just before the West Indies Test series.

One of those three batters, Kyle Verreynne, has been included in the SA A squad but a decent number of the batters in this A squad are relatively fresh faces.

For coach Conrad, who so far in his job has set a reputation of responding quickly to any signs of complacency from players, the general idea for this tour is to ensure he has younger, hungrier and most importantly ready replacement middle-order batters.

Awarding Opportunities

For the first time in a long time, the majority of SA cricket fans are satisfied with the selected group of players in this squad and that is due to good selection decisions from Conrad.

The squad has a good balance of youth and experienced players. Most importantly, Conrad has rewarded the likes of Matthew Breetzke for their performances this past season, a feat that rarely happened in the recent past.

Conrad has also added the likes of Zubayr Hamza and Keegan Petersen in his squad to bring some calm heads in the top-six.

Also, it’s not rocket science to figure out that the two batters are being given opportunities to revamp their international careers following tough patches the two experienced at the highest level.

The additions of youngsters Dewald Brevis and Tristan Stubbs, whose talents speak volumes, is to secure the future by exposing them at an early stage in their careers.

Despite Brevis and Stubbs not having achieved much in their first-class careers, they possess undeniably once in a generation talents and Conrad has decided to entrust them to be able to make the required step up as they tour Sri Lanka.

A lot is on the line on this tour and when the troops return home to SA, it will be clear where improvements need to be made going forward.

South Africa A Squad against Sri Lanka A

Tony de Zorzi (captain), Matthew Breetzke, Dewald Brevis, Gerald Coetzee, Zubayr Hamza, Jordan Hermann, Tshepo Moreki, Senuran Muthusamy, Keegan Petersen, Sinethemba Qeshile, Lutho Sipamla, Tristan Stubbs, Beyers Swanepoel, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.

South Africa A Tour to Sri Lanka Itinerary

One-Day Matches

Sunday, 4 June

Sri Lanka A vs South Africa A in Kandy

Tuesday, 6 June

Sri Lanka A vs South Africa A in Kandy

Thursday, 8 June

Sri Lanka A vs South Africa A in Kandy

Four-Day Matches

12 - 15 June

Sri Lanka A vs South Africa A in Dambulla

19 - 22 June

Sri Lanka A vs South Africa A in Dambulla


IOL Sport

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