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Emphasis should be on winning

South Africa leave for Sri Lanka next week for an one-day international and T20 series. On the face of things this series may look insignificant, but in reality it is anything but that.

The Proteas have had mixed fortunes, to say the least, in the two shortened versions of the game. Sri Lanka is a difficult team to beat at home and the Proteas will have their work cut out.

I am hoping that the emphasis this time will be on winning. Too often in recent times when it comes to the one-day and T20 versions of the game the rhetoric has been on building and planning for the future.

That process has been going on long enough and the powers that be have to put their cards on the table, back the players that they feel are the best in these shortened formats and develop a winning culture.

It is important after the sudden and unexpected departure of Gary Kirsten that captain AB de Villiers finally stamps his authority on the team and takes charge.

He has the ability and experience to do just that. Between him and the new coaching staff a working relationship has to be established that gives firm direction to the players in the squad - both from an individual and team perspective.

Part of the problem over the last two years has been an ever changing landscape as far as individual responsibility in the team has been concerned. Role definition has been vague.

There has to be certain flexibility as far as the above is concerned in the shorter formats, but not to the extent that players don’t have clarity on the role they have to perform.

Conditions have changed in Sri Lanka with the advent of day-night cricket. In the early years the surfaces were spin friendly and offered little for the faster men.

Now, however, quicker bowlers get some assistance particularly at night. This will help the South African players. The ball tends to skid onto the bat under lights as well, which makes stroke making more applicable as well.

The Sri Lankans take pride in their ODI cricket. For them winning one-day and T20 matches at home is a priority.

I for one will be interested to see how the new South African management team come together and how the players relate to the changing of the guard. Hopefully it will be for the better.

The next three weeks will give us all a fair idea.

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