Proteas assistant coach Enoch Nkwe believes the lengthy absence from cricket due to the Covid-19 pandemic has helped South African players recover after a busy cricketing period.
With local franchises returning to monitored training sessions and some of the South African players currently in action at the IPL, a return to cricket appears to be on the horizon, both on a domestic and international front for Cricket South Africa.
Nkwe, though, believes the players will be refreshed and ready for a new season after a difficult 18 months during which the Proteas won only one series in their home summer season.
‘You’re on the road and it’s not just the physical side of things, I think just mentally [taxing] as well. Just getting away from the game and doing something different and reconnecting with your own hobbies and just focusing on yourself is exactly what is needed sometimes,’ Nkwe explained.
‘That’s something I think we sometimes do take for granted. We saw in the latter part of the season how some players around the world were starting to get affected from a mental health point of view and that became very worrying.
‘Players internationally compete for long periods of time, we’re talking twelve months a year for some, so there’s hardly any family time or time for themselves. I think this break – it was never planned – but it came at the right time.’
Nkwe also referred to Kagiso Rabada, who struggled with a few minor niggles towards the end of last season, but has been in terrific form with the ball for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL and looks re-energised for the upcoming season.
‘After such a heavy schedule leading up to the World Cup, someone like KG needed a break. He’s carried some niggles, which maybe is a sign of fatigue and he needed to step back. You’re always going to need a break when you’re competing at such a high intensity all the time,’ added the coach.
‘Now, looking ahead to what’s to come, is very exciting. The energies are so good, the players are looking forward to rising to new levels and it was a good time for all of this to happen.
‘We’re just happy that most of our players used this break well and now they can really get back on the field and compete. Even just chatting to them, you can see it [lockdown] was almost a blessing in disguise and they look forward to what lies ahead.’