England ODI series will be stiff test for South Africa side in transition, says Kass Naidoo
Kass Naidoo urges South Africa to back captain Quinton de Kock, support young players and blood spin bowlers as Proteas look to become a major force in white-ball cricket; watch first South Africa vs England ODI from 10.30am on Friday on Sky Sports Cricket
By Kass Naidoo - @KassNaidoo
Last Updated: 03/12/20 3:08pm
Journalist Kass Naidoo shares news from the South Africa camp ahead of the ODI series at home to England and looks at what the Proteas should prioritise as they look to improve in white-ball cricket…
What you see is what you get with South Africa bowling coach, Charl Langeveldt.
He wears a smile on his face while giving straight answers to tough questions and that was his mood when he fronted the online chat with the media ahead of the ODI series against England.
When asked about England trialling a new system with secret signals from the team balcony during the third T20I at Newlands on Tuesday, Langeveldt admitted to being in the dark.
"We didn't know they were using it. I think a guy like Corrie van Zyl used it when he was coaching at the Knights [in South African domestic cricket]. I don't know how it works!
"Maybe it is something we can look into. Maybe it could be when you go to death bowling or when you start bowling certain balls to certain batsmen. I'm not sure what it's about."
The reality is that Langeveldt has far greater challenges on his hands at this point in time.
Speaking ahead of Friday's opening ODI against the men's 50 over world champions, he was blunt. Building the Proteas' limited-overs unit will take time.
South Africa ODI squad
Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, Junior Dala, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lutho Sipamla, Jon- Jon Smuts, Glenton Stuurman, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne
Langeveldt reflected on England's journey and the years it took to build a winning team. He spoke about the importance of building mental toughness and improving match fitness and made a point of the value of having the option of two spinners when the conditions call for it.
It is hard to ignore that England have been playing cricket for nearly five months. It shows in their physical and mental toughness, whereas the Proteas are far from settled and haven't played together since March.
Expect a period of growing pains for the team, as they search for matchwinners in various departments.
What should South Africa focus on?
Here are three things I believe the Proteas can do to positively move forward…
Back the captain
I trust director of cricket Graeme Smith's judgement. He wouldn't have backed Quinton de Kock as captain if he didn't see something in him.
Graeme was South Africa's youngest-ever captain and copped a lot of flak in the early days of his captaincy, so will know first-hand what De Kock is going through. I wouldn't be surprised if Smith has already picked up the phone for a heart-to-heart with the skipper.
I regard Graeme as South Africa's greatest-ever captain and there is nobody better to stand by his side. It's tough being South African captain. He needs all the support he can get.
Support young players
A captain who feels supported will help build the team's confidence, especially young players like Lutho Sipamla.
Last season, he was lauded as one of the bright young stars and now after being targeted against England in the final T20, is being heavily criticised and labelled a "quota player".
Young players need better support to equip them to handle pressure, both on and off the field.
Over the past few years, Cricket South Africa has been putting rising spinners through advancement programs, both here and in India, and it is paying off.
Someone like George Linde looks a really good spinning all-rounder prospect and I wouldn't be surprised if he cements a spot in both T20 and ODI outfits.
It has made things competitive and is bringing out the best in the likes of Tabraiz Shamsi and company who know the battle is on among the spinners.
Eyes on the selectors
The three-match ODI series will be another tough ask for South Africa against an England team who seem streets ahead, in terms of mental and physical toughness and execution of skills.
All eyes are on the selectors to see what team they pick. Could Andile Phehlukwayo make a return? It would be welcome news, especially in the absence of the injured Kagiso Rabada and Dwaine Pretorius.
Meanwhile, selected players have been released from the squad to either join their franchise teams or for rest and recuperation.
Faf du Plessis has been rested, while Pite van Biljon, Bjorn Fortuin and Reeza Hendricks have returned to domestic four-day cricket.
Watch the first ODI between South Africa and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Friday.