Andile Mogakane not too far away from Proteas, says Shukri Conrad

Andile Mogakane was entrusted with the role of batting at No 3 during the T20 Challenge for the Warriors, and could feature in the Proteas Test side soon. Photo: BackpagePix

Andile Mogakane was entrusted with the role of batting at No 3 during the T20 Challenge for the Warriors, and could feature in the Proteas Test side soon. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 8, 2024


ALL the focus is on coach Rob Walter’s Proteas T20 World Cup squad in New York bracing to take on the Dutch today.

However, SA Test coach Shukri Conrad is already hard at work preparing for his team’s tour of the West Indies in July and August.

Conrad’s outfit will play the West Indies in three matches, with the first Test scheduled to start on August 7 at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

With the season having closed months ago at home, Conrad saw a need to get his players in camp, work on skills and keep them active for what is the South Africans’ second series of the ongoing World Test Championship.

The camps have been broken into three segments, namely the fast bowlers (June 3-7), fast bowlers and batters (June 10-14), and batters and spin bowlers (June 17-21).

Proteas captain Temba Bavuma, wicket-keeper batter Kyle Verreynne and opening batter Tony de Zorzi are among the few national players who are available for the camps, as many are in the US competing in the T20 World Cup.

Up-and-coming players including Andile Mogakane and Dewald Brevis have been called up as well to the camps at the Centre of Excellence in Pretoria.

Conrad told Independent Newspapers this week that as much as the camps are about preparing the Proteas and SA ‘A’ players, they are also aimed at players who are on the fringes of both these teams.

“More importantly for the guys slightly below and guys who are going to play in the SA A side, we (want to) completely align them with what the expectations are in the Proteas Test side – what skill-set we are looking for, and also from a mentality point of view,” Conrad said.

“(It is about) embedding those sorts of things in them so that when they go on these A tours, they know what the expectations are, and when they make the step up to the Proteas, it’s not such a huge step up in terms of what’s expected of them.

“Also for them to go back into the first-class system and share that sort of stuff, so that everybody knows first-hand what the expectations are.”

For many, it was a surprise to see Warriors all-rounder Mogakane included in the camp as the 24-year-old is yet to establish himself in red-ball cricket.

However, he was entrusted with the role of batting at No 3 during the T20 Challenge for the Warriors, as coach Robin Peterson and his staff demonstrated their backing of Mogakane’s talent.

He scored two half-centuries in the competition, and finished 11th on the top run-scorers’ list with 297 in 11 innings.

Conrad said that the Cricket SA management have been keeping tabs on Mogakane for a number of years.

— The Dafabet Warriors (@WarriorsCrickEC) April 25, 2024

“I remember Andile from a lot younger. When he was playing at the Tuskers, I think they were still playing in the second division the year before they came up, and Neil McKenzie was our batting consultant at the time – he always liked Andile,” he said.

“He’d say ‘Shuks, there’s something about this laaitie. He’s got something and trains as hard as anyone.’ We always knew about him. I know he’s done (well) in the T20 and one-day level, but he’s just as good technically. It’s well deserved. I’m thrilled for Andile.

“Hopefully these couple of weeks with us will give him something a little extra to work with, and we can keep adding to the skills that he has and make him realise that he is not too far away. The first bit as a player is to know that your performances are being recognised, and that you’re being looked at.”

Batting coach Ashwell Prince and bowling coach Piet Botha will be alongside Conrad in the camp as the preparations for the 2024/25 Test season have officially begun.

These camps become even more important given that the Proteas will play very little red-ball cricket leading into the West Indies series, while their hosts will be fresh from a Test tour of England.

“Ideally, you would have wanted something before that (Test series). But it’s almost the way of the world currently – guys come in from different parts of the world,” said Conrad.

“The preparation won’t be ideal, but at least we have a week or 10 days before the first Test match. I’ll also have a camp from 15th to 19th of July, and that will be a pre-tour camp for both the Proteas and the SA A side.

“I cannot stress the importance of the second half of this year for us – it’s huge. We’ve got the West Indies, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

“It’s massive for us both from the team in terms of how we are transitioning into where I want this team to go, but there’s also the World Test Championship. There’s a hell of a lot to play for, and this second half of the year is going to be exciting for us.”