The South Africa Emerging team head into a two-match four-day series against their Sri Lanka counterparts in Potchefstroom on Thursday, keen to make amends for a disappointing one-day triangular series.
Shukri Conrad’s side has shown glimpses of what they can do through the tour thus far, with some outstanding individual performances from the likes of Janneman Malan and Raynard van Tonder with the bat and Thando Ntini with the ball.
But they have not really clicked as a collective and missed out on the final, won by the tourists against the University Sports South Africa (USSA) team on Sunday.
The hosts will now be looking to make amends against a Sri Lanka side that will be further strengthened by some reinforcements and they are wary of the challenge that awaits them at Senwes Park.
“They will be stronger because they have one or two experienced guys flying in for the series and that will make it tougher for us,” coach Conrad said. “I think this team that they brought here is closer to an ‘A’ side rather than an emerging team.”
Nonetheless, the SA coach says he welcomes the tougher competition. “That is something I am extremely comfortable with because it gives our players a great opportunity to test themselves,” he explained. “And if we don’t past the test, then there are still great learnings for everyone involved.
“I want us to be playing against top opposition and this is as good a chance as our players can ask for. All in all, I have every confidence that we can play a lot better in the series.”
The one-day leg of the tour was played in Pretoria having started in early July and the team will now be looking forward to a change of venue for the first four-dayer.
Conrad continued: “We arrived in Potch on Monday after having the weekend off and we’ve been preparing ourselves well so that we can hit the ground running on Thursday. We want to be competitive in these two games, and like I did in the one-day series, I’ll be hoping to give the entire squad a go in these longer games as well.”
Reflecting on that one-day series where the South Africans managed two wins in six, Conrad said it was a good learning curve for his charges.
“It was hugely disappointing to miss out on the final,” he added. “But that was not what the series was all about, it was also about development.
“We have guys that are working on their games here and we’re trying to take them in a certain direction. Especially on the batting front where we have players we are trying to guide, there’s a certain way we want them to play and to a large extent, there have been some winnings on that front.
“But yes, it is disappointing because you want to be playing in finals but, at the end of the day, we just weren’t good enough to do that.
“In saying that, I’m happy with where the group is at. We’re now moving to a different format and we have to make sure we’re really switched on for this week.”