SA A to provide Proteas with back-up
The South Africa A team may be about to undertake a two-match unofficial “test” series against Sri Lanka A but the series will also, hopefully, provide the Proteas with some in-form back-up during their upcoming tour of England, SA A coach Vinnie Barnes said on Thursday.
SA A and Sri Lanka A will play two four-day matches at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban with the first game set to start on Saturday and the second clash scheduled to start on July 6.
The Proteas begin their much-anticipated away test series against England on July 19 at The Oval in London and, should injuries occur, the national side will have a pool of players to call on who have had some recent game-time.
In addition leg-spinner Imran Tahir will play in the first match of the Sri Lanka series to find some form ahead of the England tour.
South Africa will also be undertaking a tour of Sri Lanka next year so the series against Sri Lanka A gives the Proteas’ brains-trust the opportunity to get a glimpse of Sri Lanka’s second tier of players.
“We spoke about this when Gary (Kirsten, South Africa coach) came on board. We are going to look to do this in the future. When we have winter tours like this we will probably look to shadow the senior side.” Barnes told reporters in Durban.
SA A skipper Faf du Plessis echoed Barnes’s sentiments.
“There are a few guys that are in the (Proteas) mix. We are here to make sure that the senior squad has good back-up. There are a lot of good players here, in this SA A squad and we just want to prepare as well as we can and hopefully be in good nick in case there is an unfortunate injury in the national side. This time last year there wasn’t much cricket so it is a bonus this year to get some cricket,” he added.
The SA A team has a number of players in their 15-man squad who have represented the Proteas in at least one form of the game or are knocking on the selectors' door for a chance at full international level.
Du Plessis is one player who has indicated his desire to represent his country in a test match while all-rounders Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren, batsmen Dean Elgar and Justin Ontong and wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile are just a few of the players who will be hoping to put some pressure on the current South Africa test incumbents.
Sri Lanka A posses a squad which is a touch on the young side but in 32-year-old batsman Chamara Silva, 26-year-old wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva and 29-year-old all-rounder Dhammika Prasad they have a trio who have all played test cricket.
The tourists have played one warm-up match, a three-day affair against the Sunfoil Dolphins, and despite being bowled out for 227 in their first innings acquitted themselves better in their second when they totalled 249 for four in a drawn match.
Sri Lanka A coach Romesh Kaluwitharana said that the experience gained by his team on the tour would prove invaluable to Sri Lankan cricket.
“We have quite a young side and most of them are playing in conditions that you get in South Africa for the first time. But they are getting used to it and we got some good batting time in during the warm-up match,” he said.
“This is a good opportunity for our players to show what they are made of. Sri Lanka has a lot of tours coming up and this tour will be a good platform for our players to perform well and to gain some experience.”
South Africa A squad: Faf du Plessis (Nashua Titans, capt), Temba Bavuma (bizhub Highveld Lions), Farhaan Behardien (Nashua Titans), Dean Elgar (Chevrolet Knights), Simon Harmer (Chevrolet Warriors), Reeza Hendricks (Chevrolet Knights), Imran Tahir (bizhub Highveld Lions), Rory Kleinveldt (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Pumelela Matshikwe (bizhub Highveld Lions), Ryan McLaren (Chevrolet Knights), Justin Ontong (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Wayne Parnell (Chevrolet Warriors), Rilee Rossouw (Chevrolet Knights), Thami Tsolekile (bizhub Highveld Lions), Stiaan van Zyl (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras).
Sri Lanka A squad - Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Kushal Janith, Chamara Silva, Banuka Rajapaksha, Roshein Silva, Sachithara Serasinghe, Kaushal Silva, Dhammika Prasad, Dilruwan Perera, Kanishka Elvitigala, Tharanga Lakshitha, Nilanka Premaratne, Kosala Kulasekara, Malinga Pushpakumara, Anjelo Perera.