Logistical 'nightmare' likely means weakened Proteas T20 team against Pakistan

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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)
  • The logistical "nightmare" of having to juggle the T20 series against Pakistan and the Test series against Australia means the Proteas will field a weakened team in the final section of the subcontinent tour.
  • Head coach Mark Boucher says the emphasis remains heavily weighted on the Aussie series, but is excited at what a next generation of players could deliver in the white-ball series against Pakistan.
  • Inevitably, the schedule will probably also mean that South Africa will have to split their their management team to "show the importance of both series".

The logistical "nightmare" of trying to balance the Proteas' T20 series against Pakistan while still preparing effectively for the home Test series against Australia means South Africa will probably field a compromised team for the white-ball stuff on the subcontinent.

While there still remains much uncertainty over the status of the planned three-Test battle against the archenemy, particularly in terms of bio-bubble arrangements, the national team is primed for a juggling act.

The red-ball series is currently scheduled to commence on 18 February, only four days after the Proteas play their final match in Pakistan.

"I'd say it won't be our strongest team, because the emphasis is probably more on Test cricket with Australia and rightly so," said Mark Boucher, the Proteas' head coach.

"It might be a bit of a watered down Proteas T20 team, but that's no bad thing. At the start of the season, I did allude to the fact that we're going to have to use a lot of players.

"This is an opportunity for some of those younger players to put their hand up. It's not a bad thing for us as SA cricket in general."

Indeed, while Boucher admits he's an advocate of generally only picking players when they seem close to 100% ready for international cricket, scheduling realities and the fact that A-tours have all but disappeared during the pandemic, assignments such as the Pakistan T20s have to become platforms for next generation players to show off their abilities.

"We haven't played a lot of cricket in general and there haven't been a lot of SA A tours lately too. Yes, it's not ideal to throw guys into a deep end and play international cricket when they're maybe not yet ready, but there aren't many other choices," said the Proteas mentor. 

"Some of them are going to have to be pushed and we'll see how they respond. We'll have some seniority in white ball cricket and they'll have lead from the front."

Another major challenge is the fact that South Africa will have to split their team management structure to deal with both series.

As it stands, Boucher will return with certain assistants to take care of the Test squad, while Enoch Nkwe - Boucher's official deputy - will stay on the subcontinent.

"I don't exactly know what's going on at the moment, there's still ongoing communication with Australia and asking them what sort of quarantine needs to be applied.

"As far as I know, the initial talk was that Enoch might stay over in Pakistan and finish off the T20 series while I come back," said Boucher.

"We're trying to split the management as well as we can, to show the importance of both series.

"Logistically, it is a bit of a nightmare, especially with a new (T20) squad coming in (during the Pakistan tour) and the two groups having to mix and the bubbles crossing over. 

"I'm not sure what the final decision is. We are preparing to come back and one or two staying over."

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