Those two limited-overs series’ against England, starting on November 27 will be the first time the Proteas have been seen on a cricket field in eight months.
JOHANNESBURG – Victor Mpitsang will sign off his first Proteas squad as national convenor of selectors by Friday even as he is still coming to terms with the full scope of a job in which a huge amount of responsibility rests on his shoulders.
Those two limited-overs series’ against England, starting on November 27 will be the first time the Proteas have been seen on a cricket field in eight months, during which an ocean has flowed under a very rickety Cricket SA bridge.
Some semblance of stability is being restored at administrative level, which means Mpitsang will be in the spotlight, as the first national team he’ll be in charge of picking is scrutinised.
There’s a lot that makes picking a squad for three T20 Internationals and three One-Day Internationals against a strong England side more challenging than has been the case previously. The lack of game time for many of the players based locally is one, as is the fact that those players’ first competitive matches are in the four-day format.
“The good thing about the four-day competition, is it provides a base for the players; bowlers will have bowled lots of overs, batsmen will have spent time in the middle and even if they don’t they will have hit a lot of balls,” Mpitsang said on Wednesday.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the very strict demands of the ‘bio bubble’, Mpitsang will pick a very large squad – around 25 players – which will allow for some inter-squad games which he hopes will help to sharpen the players’ white-ball skills.
The Proteas will be heavily reliant on the group that played in the IPL including Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Faf du Plessis and possibly Chris Morris. Mpitsang was still looking for clarity about Du Plessis’s availability on Wednesday after the former Proteas captain signed up for the play-offs of the Pakistan Super League, which will conclude on November 17.
He’s also not considering AB de Villiers as part of the Proteas plans – yet. De Villiers told Netwerk24 recently that due to the impending birth of he and wife Danielle’s third child he wouldn’t be available for the England series but that he was open to talks early next year about playing international cricket again.
“Whether he wants to play for SA again, he’s not called me or (Proteas head coach Mark) Boucher as far as I’m concerned,” said Mpitsang. “I have to respect AB’s decision to retire from international cricket.”
What Mpitsang is acutely aware of, is the workload that all the Proteas players will carry over the next few months. “ We’ve seen how good the rest has been for (Nortjé and Rabada). They are looking fresh and bowling quickly.”
“Once that England series starts, the Proteas will be playing a lot of cricket; they’re going to be so busy, all the series’ that were postponed need to be played at some point, there’s world cups … for now, how we manage their workloads is important. What we don’t want is that towards the end of the season guys are red-flagged.”
After England, South Africa will play Tests at home against Sri Lanka and Australia, with limited-overs series’ against Pakistan to take place in April. South Africa is also weighing up a tour to Pakistan early in 2021.