Tricky time for Proteas

SA must walk tightrope for Pakistan series, says Faf

Faf du Plessis during the South African Mens national cricket team arrival at Cape Town Airport in August 2017.
Faf du Plessis during the South African Mens national cricket team arrival at Cape Town Airport in August 2017.
Image: Gallo Images

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis says a tightrope of readiness will have to be walked ahead of the Pakistan Test cricket series starting next week.

The Proteas, who will be without pivotal seamers Lungi Ngidi and Vernon Philander, will have their first red-ball engagement at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Boxing Day (Day of Goodwill), five months since they travelled to Sri Lanka for a two-Test series they lost in July.

While some players have played county and Four-Day Franchise Series cricket‚ the diet of Mzansi Super League (MSL) cricket has changed their outlook.

Fortunately for Du Plessis‚ there is a round of four-day cricket that starts on Wednesday, while a SA Invitational XI faces the Pakistanis at the same time.

Du Plessis is concerned about the players’ mental freshness even though he said the MSL is an important part of the schedule.

“It’s a bumper schedule for us and that’s the tricky part of this period.

It’s a bumper schedule for us and that’s the tricky part of this period.
Proteas captain Faf du Plessis

“The plan would be that the guys who made the final will probably get a rest in the four day game and the guys who did not to play some four-day cricket for their domestic teams,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of cricket played‚ so you want your guys to be fresh but we also haven’t played a lot of red-ball cricket recently.

“The games start on Wednesday and finish on December 22. The next day‚ the Proteas assemble and that is three days before the start of the Test.

“It’s not ideal because you want to play red-ball cricket, but I would have liked to see the guys get a bit more rest and recharge their batteries because it’s a very hectic season for the Proteas.

“But there’s pros and cons. The league is important and some players will be needed.

“There’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes to ensure the players will be ready for the Tests and also mentally fresh.”

Du Plessis said, however, that the MSL had opened his eyes with regards to the talent pool available in SA’s domestic cricket circle.

He said the tournament allowed him to watch a lot more domestic cricket than he normally did and answered a few lingering questions he had about some players who may have forced their way into the selection radar.

“I’ve really enjoyed the insight the tournament has given me in terms of looking at players,” Du Plessis said.

“The downside of being on the road all the time is that you only see the players you’re travelling with.

“We don’t get access to watch domestic cricket when we’re overseas and we’re not really at the ground level playing with domestic cricketers.

“Being captain‚ I felt I needed to watch a lot of cricket because I needed to understand what the different domestic [sides] are doing.

“I’ve watched a lot of games this season and I’ve watched a lot of the players.

“There’s a lot of players who have impressed me. Duanne Olivier has bowled very well and he’s someone I would not have thought in the past would be a red-ball cricketer.

“The fact he’s the top Mzansi Super League wickettaker shows his ability.

“The same with Anrich Nortje, but it’s unfortunate he’s injured‚ especially with the fact that there are some injuries in the national team.”

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