Despite their shortcomings in the drawn Brisbane Test, South Africa have not scheduled extra practice sessions before the second match begins on November 22 in Adelaide. The squad will split up tomorrow and reconvene on November 18, with coach Gary Kirsten making a whistle-stop trip back to South Africa to visit his family. “We’ve got eight days
before the next Test and we try to keep people refreshed,” Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa’s team manager, told ESPNcricinfo. “Usually, we work on needing four days of preparation for any Test.”
Kirsten is the only one making that long a journey. He will leave Brisbane on Wednesday morning for Cape Town, spend three nights with his wife and three children, and will return to meet up with the squad in Adelaide on Sunday. The other members of the tour party are staying in Australia, with some headed to the Great Barrier Reef, others to the Sunshine Coast and the rest remaining in Brisbane.
Assistant coach Russell Domingo, middle-order batsman Jacques Rudolph, physiotherapist Brandon Jackson and performance director Paddy Upton will be diving at the world’s largest coral reef. The bulk of the squad, though, will be on the beach. Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are driving up the coast.
Alviro Petersen is headed directly to Adelaide to spend time with a friend, while Hashim Amla, Imran Tahir, Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt, Robin Peterson and Thami Tsolekile will stay in Brisbane and make the occasional day trip. Dean Elgar, who was added to the squad after JP Duminy’s Achilles’ injury, will meet up with them on Thursday. Duminy has a follow-up visit with the surgeon who performed his operation on the same day and is due to return home to South Africa at the weekend.
Taking short breaks during tours has become the norm for South Africa under Kirsten, whose work-life balance philosophy has been implemented by the board. Since he took over in June last year (his first assignment was only in November), every series apart from the two-Test one against Australia has had a break long enough to allow the players rest and, in the case of overseas tours, time to explore.
Against Sri Lanka at home at the end of the last year, South Africa dispersed after the first Test in Centurion and reconvened for the Boxing Day Test, which they lost. In New Zealand, a three-day result in Hamilton allowed some of the squad to visit Lake Taupo. In England, there was time for excursions, with the squad managing a trip to the Olympics, and at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka they took a few days off in Bentota.
South Africa have had a travel intensive year with five months away from home, including tours to New Zealand, England, Sri Lanka and Australia. They have been implementing a flexible player management program and allowing time off wherever possible. Jacques Kallis, for example, was rested from the one-day leg of the England tour, although he played in the Tests and T20s. Instead of remaining with the squad, as he might previously have done, he went to New York to visit his partner. Other players who took part in all formats in England and played in the World T20 were given a total break from cricket on their return home.
This is not the first time a coach has left the squad during a series. Allan Donald missed the drawn match in Wellington, while Kirsten was absent for some parts of last year’s Cape Town Test when his daughter was born.