Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
SOUTH Africa coach Ottis Gibson has said that he will take the forthcoming series against Zimbabwe seriously despite missing some of his key men in this Southern Africa cricket derby.
The Proteas were forced to drop their captain Faf du Plessis and experienced top order batsman Hashim Amla through injury while Quinton de Kock and David Miller have been rested.
The likes of Temba Bavuma, Chris Morris and Vernon Philander were also not considered for this series.
Although South Africa have dominated the meetings between the two nations, Gibson has still asked for the right attitude from his players when they get the series underway with the first ODI on Sunday in Kimberly.
“In sport in general, you can’t just take anything for granted. I remember last year when I first arrived, a little bit nervous and we were playing against Bangladesh, everybody was like ‘it’s only Bangladesh and we are supposed to beat them’ but we still had to go and compete.
“Obviously we played very well; and the message is the same. You can’t take any opposition in international sport for granted.
“Those guys have got their own reasons for coming here and wanting to do well and wanting to turn over their neighbours. So we have to make sure that whether we have new guys or not the attitude that we bring to the game is exactly where we need to be,” said Gibson.
JP Duminy has been named captain of the squad in the absence of de Kock. Dean Elgar was called in to replace Amla while Christiaan Jonker and Heinrich Klaasen continue to get opportunities.
With the ICC World Cup a few months away, Gibson also called on the hopefuls in his side to convince him that they deserve a place in the squad to represent the country at the cricket jamboree in England.
The Proteas coach has made it public that the upcoming series against Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be played with one eye on the World Cup.
“Clearly we are still continuing from where we sort of set off this time last year when I spoke to you about widening the pool of players.
“We have looked at some guys and we have seen some guys. This series and the next one, in my mind, and I have spoken to the selectors about it already, are probably the last sort of opportunity to see guys that we have discussed.
“I think by the time we get into the series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka into the New Year we will be looking to pick the team that we think is most likely to go to the World Cup,” said Gibson.
Zimbabwe left for South Africa on Wednesday morning. They connected to Kimberly from Johannesburg later in the day. The team had their first practice session at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley yesterday morning.
The limited overs tour of South Africa will be the first real test for new Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput.
The neighbours will face off in three ODIs starting this Sunday. The ODI series will run until October 6 to be followed by a three-match T20I series from October 9-14.
Zimbabwe: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Murray, Tendai Chatara
South Africa: JP Duminy (captain)), Dean Elgar, Reeza Hendricks, Imran Tahir, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungisani Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Khaya Zondo.