Considerations for a successful transition
It is often said that winning is a habit, but what is not said is how difficult the habit is to acquire.
That said, no victories are to be scoffed at as they all contribute to experiencing the sheer joy and elation of triumph.
A team gets closer when in celebration of a win and there is a futile attempt to preserve “the moment” as it symbolises the clinical execution of a plan which every member of the squad has been working at.
One sees this by the elaborate and lengthy revelry that follows after a team wins a match.
The South Africa T20 side did well to clinch the short format series in back to back games with one to spare. In fact, after the debacle of the one-day international series, which ended in worrying defeat, they surprised many.
After looking down and forlorn during the ODI ordeal, many of the same players were rejuvenated by getting over the line and no matter how unimportant the twenty20 version of the game is to some, those wins were special to the Proteas as they put smiles back into the change room.
Watching the Proteas' limited overs side and scrutinising the personnel in Sri Lanka one would not be filled with confidence in terms of that team finding consistent winning ways very soon.
While there seems to be an attempt to move on from the old guard to the youth, the transition is taking a long time and is tough to achieve because of trying to blood too many youngsters at the same time.
With victory being as important an ingredient in building a good team as defeat, it is important that the players available that best afford the Proteas a chance at victory be used as wins are never guaranteed.
Experience is a vital and rare ingredient that teams gravely require and when sides have it available, it seems a rather naive lack of judgment not to use it to the fullest.
The likes of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith are invaluable in the Proteas ODI side’s quest to reach the summit of the world game.
It is a bit much to expect young talented players to very quickly adjust and make their way at the highest level without the guidance of successful senior players.
It is those teams that make changes while on a successful run that seem to be able to best bring on young talented players who turn out to be stalwarts in the future.
The core of the Proteas side needs to be strong and cover all departments of the game and then merged with those younger and less experienced players who have shown signs of being able to mix it with the best of them.
The road ahead looks like it is going to be a testing one, much like what the test match team had to endure a few years ago.
The test team had to systematically and quite methodically work its way up the rankings table by getting the right ingredients to make a good team in terms of personnel -- and also the way that they went about that format of the game.
The Sri Lanka tour has shown that the one-day side is really at a point where it is a struggle to get things together and they need to pull together to get some victories under the belt.
It is those difficult conditions that have exposed just how weak, in some areas, the side is.
When playing in South Africa on pitches that the players are accustomed to, they manage better and also get away with quite a bit more as bowlers. The harshness of Sri Lanka demands a lot more technically from both batsmen and bowlers.
The season ahead is not going to be any easier as the opponents that turn up next are Pakistan in the UAE, which has become their home as cricket tours in Pakistan are now a no-no.
It is a place where Pakistan have enjoyed a semblance of dominance and neither the limited overs matches nor the tests will be easy against them there.
There is much work to be done, but the first part is to formulate a winning plan.