Proteas coach Mark Boucher has acknowledged that the strains of bubble life and the worries of seeing civil unrest back at home have been consumers of energy for his team, but he implored them to make one last push for the last three days of cricket they have in Ireland, starting with the first T20 in Dublin on Monday.
It has generally been a very successful tour of the West Indies and Ireland, with all the series won except for the ODIs against Ireland, which South Africa were forced to share after the first match was rained out and their shock defeat in the second game.
But that historic 43-run loss came at the height of the riots back in South Africa and Boucher said his team had struggled for focus on that day.
“We just weren’t there the other day, the awareness and intensity were way down. But we can’t afford to make excuses, we need to be up for every game,” Boucher said.
“What’s happening back at home is affecting us, and every South African. A lot of adrenaline and energy has gone into chats about it, and that equated to low energy on the field. Plus we’ve been one-and-a-half months on tour.
“We’ve talked a lot to get the emotions out and some of the players have families that have been personally affected, so they feel quite emotionally drained. But we have three days of cricket left and we showed in the last ODI what we can do when we play with good energy.
“But Ireland will certainly be no walkovers and we found out in the second ODI what happens if we don’t rock up for the T20s.”
T20 World Cup
With the postponed IPL carnival set to scupper South Africa’s hopes of playing a T20 series against India, the Proteas have these three T20s in the coming week and three more in Sri Lanka to prepare for when the global T20 pageant is held in the United Arab Emirates from October.
Assistant coach Enoch Nkwe stressed on Sunday that they now need stable plans.
“We’re not yet where we are supposed to be at, but we will be making sure we give ourselves the best chance of mastering the processes we have in place,” Nkwe said. “We would like to see different personnel in different roles to see how they respond, so those opportunities will be created. We need to look outside the frontline players to see if they can do the job.
“The players need to trust the formula we are working on, no matter the conditions. We only have six games left before the World Cup but we believe we’re on track. We need confidence in our death bowling, where we have clear plans that the bowlers just need to commit to 100%, and we need to get our top-order as stable as possible as soon as possible.”
Monday’s match starts at 5pm.