Wed, 23 Jun 2021

Newly appointed Cricket South Africa (CSA) convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang said the SA 'A' team was a realistic pathway into the Proteas team.

Incredulity has clouded the SA 'A' squad for years, with many unsure about its place in the cricketing eco-system, as it falls in that precarious hole above domestic cricket but below full international cricket.

READ | New Proteas convenor Victor Mpitsang: 'We need to give equal opportunities for players to perform'

The SA 'A' side toured India 'A' last year and played five unofficial One-Day matches and two unofficial Tests (losing both), where some of the stand-out performers included Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Lutho Sipamla, Wiaan Mulder and Aiden Markram.

While Markram and Hendricks cracked Proteas contracts for the 2020/21 season, Klaasen, Mulder and Sipamla missed out

"I strongly believe it is a pathway," said Mpitsang at the CSA season launch in Hammanskraal on Thursday.

"The SA 'A' side plays a massive role because, from domestic level, where do you go? To try and sharpen up those skills, you need to play SA 'A'.

"How I see it - and I've got my ideas, which I can't speak on yet without chatting to the relevant people first - is that my meetings with the Proteas head coach, Mark, and Proteas Women head coach Hilton Moreeng are going to be important.

"We need to understand what the style, the identity and culture of the team is going to be, and what kind of players they are looking for.

"Once we have a clear indication of all of that, we need to work hand-in-hand with the high performance (management team) and they will bridge the gap.

"It's not the same intensity when you play international cricket, but your SA 'A' side tries to bring it closer to that intensity of international cricket.

"International cricket has its own challenges but we need to try and bridge that gap, in terms of what the national team needs.

"Once at SA 'A', we can say that a player has been exposed to some sort of international cricket on an 'A' tour on the subcontinent, in India, or English conditions.

"Franchise, provincial and high-performance coaches, we all need to work together. We need to make sure that our Protea teams are successful at the end of the day."

A number of players such as Kyle Verreynne, George Linde and Zubayr Hamza, who have somewhat graduated from domestic level but not consistently cracked the international barrier quite yet, will rely on the SA A setup to attract the selectors' attention.

The Proteas face England in a shortened, hastily organised tour in November, with three ODIs and three T20Is all played in the Western Cape.

It's likely that the players will largely comprise of the contracted 16 that was named in March.

Contracted Men's Proteas:

Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.

Source: News24

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