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Fri Apr 18 05:02:45 SAST 2014

Proteas take a few steps backward, says Kirsten

Sapa | 24 January, 2013 17:180 Comments
Proteas press conference
Gary Kirsten during the South African National cricket team press conference at the Sandton Southern Sun Hotel on January 24, 2013 in Johannesburg
Image by: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

It is never nice to lose but sometimes it is necessary to take a few steps backwards, in order to move forwards, said South Africa’s head cricket coach Gary Kirsten.

“We’re not proud of our performances especially as we were in winning situations in both games,” Kirsten said in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“But we’ve taken a lot out of it and sometimes, to fulfil a longer-term vision, you need to take a few steps back. It gives us clarity where we’re going as a team and what our combinations will look like going forward.”  The Proteas take on New Zealand in the last of three one-day internationals (ODI) in Potchefstroom on Friday having already lost the series 2-0 to the visitors.

In both of the previous games, the home side were unable to capitalise on their favourable situations.

Chasing 209 for victory, New Zealand were in trouble at 141for eight and yet went on to win the first game in Paarl, with 26-balls to spare. In the second ODI in Kimberley, the Proteas were cruising at 167for one after 30 overs — needing another 113 runs – but lost their last five wickets for 41.

Although their turnover in staff was not planned, Kirsten said the absence of some of the more senior players in the squad had afforded chances to the less experienced players which, in turn, helped to strengthen their reserves.

“Our middle order has taken a serious blow, but in that lie opportunities for us to look at younger players,” he said.

“Colin Ingram played outstandingly the other night for his 79 which we may not have seen had we had our full complement of players.”  Kirsten said he was not only looking ahead to the 50-over Champions Trophy in England in June but needed to clarify his resources for the next ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015.

“Life without Jacques Kallis is a big factor for us. He’s been two players in one and we’ve had that luxury for 18 years,” Kirsten said of the world’s top all-rounder.

“We need to understand what has to be done when he’s not around, so we’re contemplating all those things and it’s very much a phase of mix and match to see where we can plug those gaps.”  The decision to broaden their base of players was always going to be a risk but it was a necessity for their overall plans.

“We didn’t take New Zealand for granted but we also needed to find a series where we could explore new talent and look to find the right balance.

“Our long term vision kicks in where we can explore depth and give others opportunities.”  Kirsten had great faith in Faf du Plessis’ captaincy skills and said he had a lot to offer and possessed great leadership potential.

“It’s important to keep building our leadership skills and find guys that can lead teams.

“AB is only a young captain and in both AB and Faf, we have two individuals who are fantastic players for this country and have leadership capabilities. It’s early days and we need to see how it unfolds over a period of time.” 

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