Smith: This season is for ‘work‚ development and growth’ for the Proteas
Cricket SA (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith says a lot of work‚ development and growth need to happen with regards to the current Proteas side.
The Proteas Test team is going through a rebuilding phase after the retirement of stalwarts like AB de Villiers‚ Hashim Amla‚ JP Duminy‚ Morne Morkel‚ Dale Steyn‚ Vernon Philander and Imran Tahir.
During the recent 2-0 Test series win over injury-hit Sri Lanka in Pretoria and Johannesburg the Proteas’ pace attack was led by the largely inexperienced Lungi Ngidi‚ Anrich Nortjé‚ Wiaan Mulder and debutant Lutho Sipamla.
Kagiso Rabada was not part of the proceedings against Sri Lanka as he was recovering from injury but the largely inexperienced attack managed to do the job as SA won the series 2-0.
The batting line-up of Dean Elgar‚ Aiden Markram‚ Rassie van der Dussen‚ Faf du Plessis‚ Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma is stable and experienced‚ but there have been questions on lack of consistency.
“I looked at the squad against Sri Lanka and I looked at our bowling attack on day one and realised there is a lot of work‚ development and growth that need to happen‚” said Smith.
“It is a very young squad with potential and with that it’s going to come with elements of learning and ups and downs. Yes, we want our team to win as much as possible but I wouldn’t say that is the defining thing for me this season.
“I would like to answer a few questions in my head‚ and I think it’s the same with the selectors and coaching staff‚ around the potential that we have to move forward. The type of players that are going to put their hands up over the next few months.
“There’s going to be a number of opportunities for a number of players because of Covid-19 bubbles and the challenges we are going to face around waiting periods and getting cricket played. There are going to be more opportunities available to play than maybe in the past.
“I am excited to see who is going to put their hands up and the people we can back in the future. I played the game and I want our team to win but I am also realistic with the challenges that we face on a daily basis because of Covid-19 and the bubbles.”
Smith added that a lot of work went on behind the scenes to ensure that cricket is played in SA.
“I think we were sitting in the winter in the midst of lockdown and all of us were asking‚ ‘When are we going to get outdoors?’ — and never mind playing again. To be able to reach a point where we got cricket under way with England‚ Sri Lanka and Pakistan‚ I think it’s going be a busy period for the players.
“I know it’s challenging moving from one bio-bubble to the next but it will be good to finish having played as much cricket as possible. I know everyone is focused on the results but as director of cricket I see it as an opportunity for us to grow squads‚ to see a number of players across the board.
“With Covid-19 restrictions and how bubbles are being run‚ it is going to be impossible to play your best team day in and day out. But hopefully by April we will have a really good idea of the core group of players and let’s hope that results will come our way as well.
“I have been working on an FTP [future tours programme] and it’s looking very busy and our goal will be that at some point we need to sit down and really focus on who is going to be the best squad to go to World Cup tournaments and how that is going to look. At the moment the focus is getting as much cricket played as possible.”