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Journey to the Cricket World Cup starts tomorrow

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“You get guys who are earmarked and then they think they must play based on that reputation, but you still have to put the runs on the board and take your wickets”

For Cricket South Africa and the Proteas, it is not a stretch to state that the build-up to the next World Cup starts tomorrow with the opening fixture of the Momentum One-Day Cup.

Faf du Plessis has used England’s four-year plan to become 50-over World Cup winners last year as an example of the kind of patience Cricket SA need to show in order to achieve success, not just in the limited overs formats but the Test team as well.

Using a similar template here makes this season’s One-Day Cup a crucial part of the kind of long-term planning CSA needs to employ if they Proteas are to mount a proper challenge in India in 2023.

The one-day squad for the three matches against England, indicate that the selectors and head coach Mark Boucher certainly have that in mind. The average age of that squad is 24.8.

In the One-day Cup, it’s young players like Matthew Breetzke and Sinethemba Qeshile at the Warriors, Marques Ackerman at the Dolphins and Ryan Rickelton at the Lions who have a chance over the next couple of seasons to make an impression on the national selectors.

Veteran Henry Davids issued a cautionary word about looking too far ahead, especially for those players who might get earmarked now.

“You get guys who are earmarked and then they think they must play based on that reputation, but you still have to put the runs on the board and take your wickets,” said Davids.

“Stay in the here and now. I was the same, I got a hundred on debut as a 20-year-old, back then there was writing about me in the paper; and as a young cricketer you buy into what people are writing about you and your head runs away with you.

“We all read the papers, they can’t deny it, nowadays there’s social media, what’s first thing youngsters do these days? They look at their phone, so they see the write ups, it’s same thing as when I was young. The sooner you get into the mindset of controlling what you can control, things become easier to handle.”

Rather than trying to make an impression immediately, Davids has encouraged younger players to follow the example of Rassie van der Dussen, who’s professional career was in its 10th year when he got picked up for the national side.

“You find guys who have one good season and then think they should play for South Africa, I can guarantee you, you’re not ready, there are a few players who are ready, but that doesn’t happen often,” said Davids.

“I would tell young guys, no matter how talented you are, if you play three, four, five years you then get to know your game, but more importantly they get to know themselves.”

For the likes of Breetzke, Qeshile and Ackerman, 2023 would be the fourth year for them as pros, and in the next few years, they will hopefully learn the tools not just technically, but mentally and emotionally that could make them World Cup candidates.

That journey continues in the Momentum Cup.

SA ODI squad

Quinton de Kock (capt), Reeza Hendricks, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Jon Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lutho Sipamla, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Sisanda Magala, Bjorn Fortuin, Beuran Hendricks, Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne

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