South Africa women’s team coach Hilton Moreeng says he and his technical staff are having to find innovative ways to prepare the team properly as the Proteas ladies eye their return to action on January 20 when their ODI series against Pakistan starts at Kingsmead in Durban.
The three-match ODI series is followed by three T20s, with all of the matches being played at Kingsmead, as the Proteas Women play their first competitive cricket since their nail-biting ICC World T20 semi-final loss to Australia on March 5 last year.
“Being in a bubble is a challenging environment and we have to follow a new normal which is very strange for everyone, training with masks and everything. But it is an opportunity to play cricket and we are just educating the players; this is a new experience for them.
“Our last three days of training have been very good and our preparations are on track, I’m very happy with how things are proceeding,” Moreeng said on Monday.
“The most important thing is that the team has had a year out of action with no competitive cricket, so just to get out on the park is a big thing. We have had a lot of camps, which went well, but you can only see so much in those. I’m looking forward to a lot of youngsters now getting the opportunity to actually play. And at the end of the day we’re just playing to win.”
There are at least two spots available in the batting line-up due to the absence through back injuries of captain Dane van Niekerk and the hard-hitting Chloe Tryon, even if those players coming in are just leasing their spots from two world-class performers who will be missed.
“It’s a big loss but mostly for the individual players because we don’t know when their next opportunity to play will come,” Moreeng said. “But their absence does give an opportunity to others to play and that only makes the team stronger. A couple of youngsters have put their hands up in our camps. Of course competitive cricket will always be another level and rustiness will be there.
“We wanted to take our momentum from the T20 World Cup and keep improving while we build for the next World Cup (the 50-over edition in New Zealand next year), so not playing for a year has been a blow for everyone, but we can only control what we can and that’s the attitude we want the players to have.
“At the end of the day, safety must come first and we are just thankful for the opportunity to play.”