Proteas captain Temba Bavuma insists that the players are fully focused on preparations for the limited overs series against Sri Lanka, which starts with the first ODI in Colombo on Thursday morning.
SA left the country last week with a dark cloud over the head of embattled coach Mark Boucher as he is at the centre of serious allegations of racial discrimination made by former teammates.
During his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Bavuma said the role of the players is to ensure that they prepare and deliver on the field against the Sri Lankans.
“Our role as players is to make sure that what we do on the field is of a certain standard and that is what we will be striving to do,” he said.
“As I said, our main aim is to win the series and that is where our minds are. The conversations among us as players have largely been centred on how are we going to play the best cricket.
“That’s where our focus is and as players there is no need to get involved with external matters but to focus on doing well as a team. We have come here to Sri Lanka, in foreign conditions, and the aim is to obviously win the series, it is as basic as that.”
The Proteas have not won an ODI series in almost 18 months and Bavuma said they don’t want to focus too much on what happened in the past.
“It seems that every time we play an ODI series there is always something that we have to overcome as a team. We can’t focus too much on what’s happened in the past but we can learn from it.
“In the position that I have been, I have only been in this role of captain for the home series against Pakistan and against Ireland, which was affected by weather. There is still a lot for us to overcome as a team, but what is in front of us now is this Sri Lankan tour and to get the right results in our favour.”
The Proteas will be without key players Lungi Ngidi, Quinton de Kock and David Miller and Bavuma said their absence is an opportunity for other players to raise their hands.
“We are missing key players,” he said. “With those key players there is experience that we are going to miss on the field. But in saying that, we back the guys who have come in for those guys to do the job, and I don’t think that we need to shy away from that.
“If ever there is a time to give opportunities, it is now, even when there is a lot at stake because we are trying to accumulate as many Super League points as possible to qualify for the 50-over World Cup.
“I don’t believe that we are compromising ourselves because we are missing a couple of guys; it’s a massive opportunity for the guys coming here and for everyone to put in performances for the team.”
The absence of De Kock means they must find a wicketkeeper and the decision is between Heinrich Klaasen and Kyle Verreynne.
“Obviously we still have to finalise the squad and the starting 11, but whoever comes in to keep wicket between Heinrich and Kyle, we are confident that he will do a good job.”
By Mahlatse Mphahlele – TimesLIVE