’Westin’ does the talking online ... Dwaine Pretorius wants to his on the field for Proteas
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JOHANNESBURG - While the problems off the field keep bubbling away, the Proteas men’s team has faced challenges on the field as well, with Covid-19 restrictions in Sri Lanka inhibiting preparations ahead of the opening One-Day International on Thursday.
Already forced into training in separate groups, on Sunday the Proteas’ training sessions were held indoors because of bad weather in Colombo. The last place the players wanted to be was indoors, because that’s all they’ve seen since arriving in the Sri Lankan capital.
Although there has been some measure of acclimatisation to ‘bio-secure bubbles,’ given how that is now a way of life to ensure international cricket can continue in some countries, it is still a challenge, as Dwaine Pretorius confirmed.
“You lose connection with teammates,” he said Sunday. “You spend time together, but from afar. We all have our own separate areas where we eat. You miss that team environment.”
It also means a lot of time alone, that can only be broken up by ‘virtual’ engagements with other teammates, through video games, and more importantly with family. However the latter has its challenges.
“My little boy doesn’t like talking to me online, because he knows it means I’m far away, so we do it through toys or talking using animation,” said Pretorius.
“At the World Cup in 2019, we stayed at a Westin hotel in the UK, and he got a toy rhino there, which we call Westin. So when he talks to me, I talk to him through Westin.”
It is Pretorius’ first trip with the Proteas, since February, when he was one of the top performers in the T20 series in Pakistan. He took a match-winning ‘five-for’ in the second match of that series, and with his good friend Chris Morris, no longer being an option, had put himself forward as a strong candidate to fill the seam-bowling all-rounder’s spot in the starting XI for the T20 side.
However he then missed the home series against Pakistan with a broken rib and then didn’t tour the Caribbean and Ireland after contracting Covid.
On that tour, Wiaan Mulder threw his name into contention for a World Cup spot, especially with his composed performance in the deciding match of the series against the West Indies.
This tour is thus an important one for Pretorius to win back some attention from the selectors. Initially he’ll hope to do that in the One-Day series that starts on Thursday. Adapting to conditions has proven to be slightly harder than the players had imagined during their pre-tour camp in Potchefstroom.
“We actually had slightly slower pitches in Potch, which gave us some idea about what we will face here, but the humidity is definitely something that takes getting used to. It will test our fitness and one thing we especially need to be aware of is hydration. Back home, you can have one bottle of water, here the boys were drinking four at training,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s recent One-Day record has been poor. They have lost series’ in Bangladesh, England and more recently at home to a second string Indian team. They have been using a lot of younger, less experienced players, but they, like South Africa, are under pressure to move up the ICC World Cup Super League table to ensure automatic qualification for the next World Cup.
Sri Lanka sit twelfth, one place below the Proteas, with only the top seven teams, and hosts India, guaranteed of spots at the 2023 tournament. The remaining two places will be decided in a qualifying competition before the tournament.
“There’ll be a bit of time spent with (Rivash Gobind, the performance analyst) doing some video analysis on their players and then it’s a case of being aware, about where to bowl and the areas where you can hit the ball.”
“The wickets will be slow and the outfield will be slow as well. Spin and changes of pace will play a massive role. I don’t think there’ll be a lot of swing, and with the bat, by playing good cricket shots and hitting the space, we’ll be okay,” said Pretorius.
The Proteas will play three ODIs followed by three T20 Internationals.
* Meanwhile Cricket SA’s Members Council - the body comprising the provincial presidents - gave its backing to the organisation’s Board of Directors in the Board’s efforts to get to the bottom of Enoch Nkwe’s resignation.
The Board said last week it would be launching an investigation after Nkwe, who tendered his resignation a week ago, cited concerns about the Proteas’ team culture and environment.
The Members Council spent more than 90 minutes discussing the topic at a meeting on Saturday afternoon. “There are certain due processes that have to be followed and the Members’ Council is confident that these will be resolved in terms of the timeline the Board has set for itself,” said CSA President and Members’ Council chairperson, Mr Rihan Richards.