Kaymo's Korner: Protea bowlers must arm themselves for a Sri Lanka assault

2014-04-24 10:00

Dale Steyn once referred to the Indian Premier League (IPL) as a “working holiday” while he was still playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. This comment earned him a fine.

In a rather cruel twist of fate, over-exertion during last year’s controversial edition saw him miss a significant part of South Africa’s ICC Champions Trophy campaign.

Whether he played in that semifinal against England is another story, but his was a lesson in pacing oneself in the tournament, especially with a crucial tour of Sri Lanka looming.

There will be sufficient resting time ahead of the month-long July tour, which holds more importance than most.

The Proteas have deservedly forged a reputation as “road warriors”. They have not lost an away series since the grim 2006 tour of Sri Lanka.

However, Sri Lanka is one country that they have struggled in and eight years ago, Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene gave South Africa 624 reasons not to come back to the lush island.

South Africa has not played a test match there since and age has chipped away at the immovable rocks of Sri Lankan cricket.

With an ICC trophy finally in the bag, another crack at South Africa cannot be resisted because they have provided rich pickings for them.

As the Champions Trophy and the third test against Australia in March proved, South Africa’s bowling attack has a leg and a half sawed off when Steyn is injured.

Morné Morkel, who endured a poor World Twenty20, may be a good bowler but has yet to exhibit attack leadership qualities.

He was also a victim of the IPL’s relentless schedule last year. He limped off in the opening game against India and subsequently missed the rest of the tournament.

While it looks like fun and games on the telly, the IPL is a relentlessly monotonous tournament played on largely unresponsive surfaces over a month and a half, which is longer than most tours.

Having paid top dollar to secure the services of marquee players like Steyn and Morkel, every cent will be squeezed out of them.

Before any thoughts of a test series win against Sri Lanka is entertained, South Africa will need their best fast bowlers?–?along with Vernon Philander?–?firing on all cylinders, especially with a new captain at the helm.

The latter will have to prove that he’s not just a green top specialist because he will find none of those in Colombo and Galle.

Russell Domingo will have to hope and pray that his strike bowlers come through the cricket gluttony with their waistlines intact.

Of the current test crop, only AB de Villiers and Steyn have any sort of test experience in Sri Lanka.

They were still junior members of the test unit, which was captained by the recently retired Ashwell Prince.

The IPL kits may be glossy and at most, sponsorship catalogues that pass off as clothing, but it is a rather difficult tournament to keep up with, especially because of its length and the mileage it takes out of its international players.

Just as a reminder, batsmen set up matches, which are won by the bowlers.

We will need ours fully armed for the assault on the forts of Galle.

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