The Proteas may talk about being creative, but leaving the bowling all up to the spinners, would be a little too funky.
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa may have the spin weaponry to take advantage of conditions in Sri Lanka, but that doesn’t mean the fast bowlers can park off and put their feet up.
The Proteas may talk about being creative, but leaving the bowling all up to the spinners, would be a little too funky. In Tabraiz Shamsi, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj and Bjorn Fortuin, skipper Temba Bavuma does have the necessary spin arsenal at his disposal.
And despite missing Lungi Ngidi, he’s not short on fast bowling options either. Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortjé have been in excellent form across formats in 2021, and there is solid back up for them from Lutho Sipamla, Lizaad Williams and Beuran Hendricks.
What they all need to do is acclimatise to conditions; the weather and the pitches.
South Africa has won the last two ODI series between the sides in Sri Lanka, in 2014 and then 2018.
In 2014, the medium pace of Ryan Mclaren, proved to be the most successful with nine wickets in that three-match series, and in 2018, Ngidi and Phehlukwayo were SA’s leading wicket-takers with 10 and nine wickets respectively, as the Proteas emerged victorious in a five-match series.
Hendricks, still sporting the eight stitches above his right eye that were the result of being smashed in the face while dishing ‘throw downs’ to Dwaine Pretorius prior to the team’s departure, said the conditions – both atmospheric and the surface – made demands that were both physical and technical.
“You have to train your body according to conditions; it’s monsoon season, so the field will be heavy, so you have to spend a bit more time on your feet at training,” said Hendricks
“The humidity is quite high over here, so you have to make sure you are hydrated, and spend enough time in the gym to keep muscles on point when it comes to fatigue.”
Preparation hasn’t been ideal, with the South Africans’ first training session taking place in-doors because of rain, while the Covid restrictions in place in Sri Lanka mean they had to train in groups of no more than six at a time.
Nevertheless, Hendricks said the preparation for bowling on Sri Lankan surfaces had already started in Potchefstroom where the team held a training camp. Likening it to bowling at coastal venues in South Africa, which are slower than those on the Highveld, the left arm seamer said lengths are vital.
“You want to be a touch shorter at the coast in South Africa, it’s not a big difference here. You must assess very quickly and adapt very quickly.”
Hendricks had spent a couple of years playing for the Lions at the Wanderers, but this year returned to his home union, Western Province, so the changes he’s made for Sri Lanka will still stand him in good stead when he returns home.
He’ll be hoping to add to his eight ODI caps, the last of which came against Pakistan in April.
“It has been disappointing,” he said about not being able to cement a spot in the national team. “It has an effect on the mind, but if you have the right people in your corner, you stay positive, focused and make sure (you) stay patient. – that’s the biggest word,” Hendricks remarked.
“I appreciate the coaches; they are communicative, they tell you where you stand, what’s going on in your career. It’s not a case of them throwing me away and I appreciate that. I have to be ready for whatever comes.”
Dasun Shanaka (c), Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kamindu Mendis, Minod Bhanuka, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Nuwan Pradeep, Binura Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya, Praveen Jayawickrema, Lahiru Kumara, Lahiru Madushanka, Pulina Tharanga, Maheesh Theekshana
Temba Bavuma (capt), Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Janneman Malan, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.