Cape Town – The effects of another failed World Cup quest by South Africa earlier this year may take time to flush out, warns former national coach Eric Simons.
Speaking to Sport24 before taking up a new post as head coach of start-out Caribbean Premier League franchise the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots – the CPL Twenty20 event begins on June 20 – Simons said it might be optimistic to expect the Proteas to simply climb back aboard the international bus and dominate most foes almost immediately.
“I do think they will need a bit of time: they went to the World Cup (where they were pipped by New Zealand in a nail-biting semi-final – Sport24) with very high expectations, so falling short again will have been hard for (many of the players) to deal with.
“There were such raw emotions on display, that day in Auckland, and some of them took it so badly.
“I have worked before with Morne Morkel (during Simons’s tenure at Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League) and it was tough, not to mention quite surprising, to see him in such a state straight afterwards.
“As a unit it may take the team some time to properly get back to (their feet).”
The comeback bid begins when the Proteas travel to Bangladesh for a series in all three formats in early July.
Simons feels that the likelihood of South Africa holding onto their current No 1 ranking in the Test arena may hinge on the future of their long-time main pace ace Dale Steyn, who turns 32 next month.
“For me the key to that (status) is Dale ... where is he exactly at this point? It is quite hard to tell.
“He has spoken of having a certain number of balls left in his career and that’s not (great) to hear.
“It is vital that he is at peak physical condition to be able to excel again in the environment (Tests) where he has achieved most of his finest feats ... clear decisions must be made jointly over how his bowling load should be (structured) from here.”
The former SA all-rounder in 23 one-day internationals (1994-1995) cautioned that he felt Australia were “back on the up” at Test level and had certain individual players “moving to another level”.
At the same time, he said, the growing maturity in the five-day game of Faf du Plessis, placing him alongside staple figures like captain Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and JP Duminy for batting stability, would keep the Proteas genuinely forceful against all comers.
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