According to Central Gauteng Lions head coach Wandile Gwavu, future Proteas Test hitters will continue to struggle because regional cricketers aren’t playing enough first-class cricket.
Gwavu, who was elected coach of the year in 2020, issued a stern warning regarding the Proteas’ future Test chances, especially with regard to the national team’s batting, which has been a notable weakness in recent years. Division 1 teams will begin their summer schedules the following week.
Gwavu, whose side won the One-Day Cup and came second in the Four-Day tournament last season, stated, “I am worried about the less games that we are playing.” “Any hitter will tell you that they will become better at their craft the more they bat. The potential is there, but the skill might be greater. As they play more cricket, however, their skill will only improve.
He said that local players were not playing enough cricket and that it was almost hard to assess a batter’s preparedness for Test cricket due to the constrained playing schedule.
Since you just need to perform well in three of the five or six Four-Day matches to be considered for the Proteas squad, playing for the Proteas has virtually become a piece of cake. Whether this is good or regrettable, I’m sure the players don’t mind.
But in my view, you need to have dominated franchise cricket for at least two seasons before you played for the Proteas. For you to face players like Stuart Broad or James Anderson, it must be a steady run.
The Four-Day tournament this season is divided into two halves, with the first three rounds of games taking place in November and the last four rounds occurring in February/March. Gwavu claims that this leads to an imbalance and doesn’t provide players enough chances to practice under various circumstances. For instance, the Lions play four games at the recently renamed DP World Wanderers and one game at Potchefstroom.
“I still think you need to play more than seven games; you need to play both at home and away, if you want to develop genuine Test players. In just a few nations, circumstances vary from province to province.
Out of the seven games, we may play four at the Wanderers, one in Pretoria, and five on the Highveld. If you average 60 or 70 as a batsman in those five games and are selected for the Proteas, you’ll play your first Test in Sri Lanka. That is the reality in terms of planning.
Former Proteas coach Mark Boucher was at a loss to explain the batters’ shortcomings after South Africa’s recent Test series defeat in England, where the batting failed horribly — admittedly in difficult conditions — in the last two Tests. Instead, Boucher pointed to the batters’ lack of experience and technical flaws.
Even with the few Test matches the South African side will play over the next four years, if players aren’t receiving enough first-class experience, it will continue to happen with future Proteas Test players.
“It is difficult. My favorite format of cricket is first-class, said Gwavu. “I’ve always been a four-day coach, and with the Lions we prioritize it because I think that’s the format that will enable you to learn about cricket foundations, and you can fit 50-over and T20 cricket into that.”
The absence of two- or three-day games during the Lions’ preseason is a reflection of the times. Instead, before the commencement of the new season on Monday with the T20 Challenge for the eight Division 1 clubs, the team has played 17 T20 matches.
“You would typically play a couple three-day games to start the preseason, but now you want to prioritize whatever format you’re going to start with.
We will be relying on the time we’ve spent on the field in the T20 games (to aid with the four-day training) since we only have two weeks to prepare for the four-day tournament (in November).