Proteas

Graeme Smith on below-par Proteas performances: 'This is a crucial period for results'

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Mark Boucher and Enoch Nkwe might have to split up to help the Proteas juggle their assignments against Pakistan and Australia (Gallo Images)
Mark Boucher and Enoch Nkwe might have to split up to help the Proteas juggle their assignments against Pakistan and Australia (Gallo Images)
  • CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith emphasised that the Proteas were entering a crucial period ahead of this year's T20 Cricket World Cup.
  • Smith called the season an "exploration period" where various players were given international opportunities.
  • The Proteas have won one series in their last six, including four back-to-back defeats to Pakistan, home and away.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith emphasised that the Proteas were entering a crucial period of their season in their quest to turn results around before the T20 Cricket World Cup.

Head coach Mark Boucher's team have been on a rotten run for months since cricket resumed after Covid-19 struck last year, winning just one series, two Test against Sri Lanka in December, in six.

SA also lost four back-to-back series against Pakistan in 2021, in all three formats, including ODI and T20 series 2-1 at home.

With an October T20 World Cup coming up, the results do not bode well for the Proteas men's team, who are looking to break their ICC tournament hoodoo in India.

"My perspective on this is that this is a crucial period for the men, the players and management," Smith said on Thursday.

"When we started this season, if I think back to November, one of our main goals as a cricket department was to try and get as much cricket played as possible.

"We've tapped into about 32 players that played for South Africa this season, 45 have been kitted out. We've really spread far and wide for various reasons.

"One [reason is that] we've lost a number of players to the Covid situation. Cancellation of the 4-Day cricket in December meant loads were an issue.

"We have travelled with different squads because of the schedule, the IPL and Australia (tour cancellation)."

READ | Graeme Smith says AB's return an 'ongoing discussion'

The results have heaped pressure on Boucher, whom Smith brought in to stem a similarly rotten run of poor results in 2019 on a four-year contract but has so far not delivered.

On the flip side, the Proteas have been decimated by the loss of experienced players either retiring from various formats or opting to take up transient T20 competition contracts across the globe.

Smith called the season an "exploration period" but also saw the need for the Proteas to settle into their best team soon if they mount a strong challenge in India later this year.

"It was a bit of an exploration period for the national team in terms of trying to identify players to take forward," he said.

"But I do see this next period, from a results perspective, as crucial in the build-up to the T20 World Cup, getting our best team playing together as often as we can and really pushing hard.

"It's a big six months for the men, with the end-of-year Indian tour, which is a marquee tour, the T20 World Cup in October and the West Indies in June."

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