Local structure worries Boeta

Jason Humphries

Johannesburg - The Proteas' lack of game time heading in to the three-Test series against Sri Lanka is a concern, former South Africa batsman Boeta Dippenaar said on Monday.

The majority of South Africa’s Test squad have played precious little cricket since the Test series against Australia which ended on November 11.

A few national squad members have had a chance to play in the domestic 1-Day Cup but the likes of batsman Hashim Amla and all-rounder Vernon Philander have not played a competitive match since the end of the Australia series while leg-spinner Imran Tahir played in just one game.

Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Mark Boucher had the opportunity to play a few more matches thanks to the Cape Cobras’ run to the 1-Day Cup title but a few one-day matches is hardly adequate preparation for the rigours of a Test series.

Dippenaar, who played in 38 Tests for South Africa, said that it was vital that South African domestic cricket was set up to provide the Proteas with the best preparation ahead of international commitments.

“We must remember that the object of franchise cricket is not to win trophies but to serve the national team,” Dippenaar told SuperCricket.

“It is a concern. I don’t think that franchise cricket is serving the national interest. I am still amazed that we don’t mix up our one-day and four-day fixtures so that our national players have an opportunity to play in either format two weeks before a series,” he added.

However, despite the Proteas' lack of game time Dippenaar said that he did not think that South Africa will have too many problems dealing with an injury-ravaged Sri Lanka outfit.

Most pundits are predicting a comfortable series win for the hosts and Dippenaar does not disagree.

“I do think it will be as simple as that. I can’t see how the series will pan out any other way. The reason I say that is that I don’t think Sri Lanka have won a Test since Muttiah Muralitharan retired.

“Test matches are won by teams taking 20 wickets and that is something that Sri Lanka have battled to do without the likes of Murali, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga,” he explained.

Sri Lanka have not won a Test since a 10-wicket victory over India in July 2010, Muralitharan’s last Test match.

The general consensus amongst many observers of the game is that Sri Lanka will battle to cope with the demands of playing against South Africa’s formidable pace attack led by Steyn, Philander and Morne Morkel.

Dippenaar said he would resist the urge to leave leg-spinner Tahir out of the Proteas’ playing XI as playing an extra seamer does not always work out.

“It has been my experience in my career that if four seamers can’t do the job then five won’t either.

“The reason for that is that I have found that a fast bowler must know that there is no one else to do his job. They need to feel that they want to do it but with five seamers there is sometimes the feeling that there is someone else to fall back on if one of the bowlers is not playing particularly well.

“It is very important for South Africa’s long-term planning that they play a spinner. Tahir must be given a proper chance to show what he can do,” said Dippenaar.

The first Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka is set to start on Thursday at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
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