Sri Lanka in SA
Proteas to rest Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn (Gallo Images)
Kimberley - Proteas coach Gary Kirsten is excited by the competition for places in the team, saying this will serve his long-term strategy.
"We’re in the industry of winning games of cricket, so I’m mindful of that," said Kirsten on Thursday.
"But it’s important for us to continue building and achieve consistent success and to do that we need a greater squad of players. We’ve got to offer, as a cricket nation, more than just 11 players."
Having taken South Africa to an unassailable 3-0 lead in the One-Day International series (ODI) against Sri Lanka, the coach will continue his player rotation policy and rest players for the last two matches of the series.
Wayne Parnell has been included in the side for the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka in Kimberley on Friday, with Dale Steyn will be rested for the remainder of the series.
Parnell played his last match for the Proteas at the Cricket World Cup in March last year, and has looked in strong shape in the nets. This has been another important facet of Kirsten’s coaching philosophy, as he looks to build for the future.
"We were always planning to experiment throughout the series and it’s important that we develop and grow players so that we have a squad of 16 or 17 players we can pick from at any time," he said.
"It allows us to rotate better, and rest players, because we know that the guys coming in have got the experience and they’re equally as good.
"The exciting thing is that there is competition for places and that’s important - not only in the one-day unit, but also in the Test unit people are competing for places."
The middle-order batting line-up changed in each of the first three ODIs, with Kirsten adding that it was something that would continue as the situation would be assessed during each match.
"For me, four, five, six and seven are the crucial batting positions in many respects in one-day cricket because those are your closers," he explained.
"I just want to be comfortable with who our best closers are in the team, so we’re going to mix it up and rotate it a bit.
"Also the left-hander/right-hander combination plays a very important role, so there will be great flexibility within that space."
Kirsten praised AB de Villiers for the way he has embraced his new role as captain and wicketkeeper in the one-day format.
"AB's been quite creative and that's good for us," Kirsten said.
"He's also given the bowlers responsibility, wanting to know what fields they want and what they're planning to do in an over.
"He brings a certain freshness to the role, but it's tough being both captain and keeper in one-day cricket, so we’re mindful of that, but all credit to him."
Sri Lanka has also made a couple of changes to their side, who have continued to improve since the team's disastrous innings of 43 all out in Paarl last week.
Mahela Jayawardene was suffering from back strain and would be replaced by Lahiru Thirimanne, while off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake had been flown in to replace the injured Ajantha Mendis.
Jayawardene said the Sri Lankans were very disappointed with their inconsistent performances and hoping to get something out of the last two matches so they could go home with some memories to cherish.
"We were a shambles in that first game, but we’ve made progress since then and it’s important for us to try and improve," Jayawardene said.
"When something goes well for us, something else goes wrong, so we have to be consistent in all departments to beat a team like South Africa who are on top of their game."