Proteas interim team director Enoch Nkwe is highly positive about the local talent that has excelled during the Mzansi Super League.
Nkwe was the first coach to lift the MSL trophy when he guided the Jozi Stars to the inaugural title last season. He has since graduated to the national team after also winning the CSA T20 Challenge and 4-Day Domestic championships.
It was a tough initiation for Nkwe on the recent tour of India, where the Proteas were whitewashed 3-0 in the Test series. However, Nkwe did oversee a credible 1-1 draw in T20 series.
Many of those players utilised during that T20 series have continued their good form in the MSL, while there have also been others that have enhanced their reputations.
“I think having been in the domestic structures I kind of know the players doing the rounds, but for me it was more about watching them perform in a different teams and different environments,” Nkwe said.
“Take a guy like Sisanda Magala.
“He has moved from the Eastern Cape to the Blitz and still performed really well.
“Equally, Kyle Verreynne he wasn’t picked initially and then was mostly a back-up player, but then he comes in and plays an innings of the highest quality like he played for the Paarl Rocks.
“Bjorn Fortuin too, obviously I know him very well from the Lions, and he just continues to go from strength-to-strength.”
While this is all positive for South African cricket, and particularly with the T20 World Cup set for next year, the immediate concern for Nkwe is preparing the Test squad for the much-anticipated series against England, starting on Boxing Day at SuperSport Park.
The fact that the fast bowlers have only bowled short spells due to the MSL format has raised the alarm bells.
It is even a greater concern considering that the Proteas will play back-to-back Test matches – Boxing Day and New Year’s – with very little mileage in the bowlers’ legs.
Talisman Kagiso Rabada has had to be content with only the four mandatory overs, while fellow seamers Vernon Philander, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have not even played every game due to the composition of their respective teams on occasion.
With all three having suffered injuries last season, there is a real fear that their current low workloads may put their fragile bodies under strain when the intensity increases for a longer period of time.
“The support staff have been monitoring all our players and are working very hard behind the scenes to ensure the bowlers do bowl the amount of overs they need to, and to get their workloads up,” Nkwe said.
“That should allow them to adapt a lot easier. Obviously, there is nothing like game time to get miles in the legs and hopefully there are a few opportunities before Boxing Day to get the boys ready.”
The tourists play two warm-up games against the SA Invitational XI and South Africa ‘A’ side prior to the first Test at SuperSport Park on December 26. Equally, there is one full round of 4-Day Domestic Cup fixtures.
Nkwe could not commit to whether the entire Proteas Test squad would play in the 4-Day Domestic fixture, but that the two tour matches will utilised for some players to find some red-ball form.
“Those matches are obviously something we are looking at. The Director of Cricket post is being finalised soon, so those are the types of conversations that we will be having and looking how we going to plot the future,” he said.
“At this stage I can’t say which games they will be playing, but we will be looking to create opportunities for the players to get some miles in their legs.”