South Africa begin their ICC Cricket World Cup preparations in earnest when they play Sri Lanka in the first of two warm-up matches at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday. The matches hold no official One-Day International (ODI) status, and both teams are allowed to make use of all 15 squad members. The Proteas arrived in Christchurch early on Thursday morning, and have settled comfortably with a week to go until their opening match of the tournament against Zimbabwe in Hamilton on February 15. Coach Russell Domingo has stressed the irrelevance of the result, and says the matches will be a good opportunity for the players to adapt and familiarise themselves to local conditions, “Warm-up matches are very important at an event like this. Number one will be for the players to get some time on their legs; whether it’s sleep patterns, or making sure the bowlers get some overs under their belts and making sure the batters get to spend some time at the wicket. I don’t think the results are that important. It’s about making sure we get some game-time and getting our guys accustomed to what is to be expected over the next few weeks.”
Sri Lanka and New Zealand (their second opposition) will give the Proteas a handy workout, however executing processes and game-plans will remain the main focus of the deliverables. “It’s definitely going to be competitive. Winning is always important, we know that, probably not that important leading up to a tournament like this. There is going to be so much pressure in the event itself, and I think low-pressure games of this nature are very important and we shouldn’t look to over-analyse and read too much into what the results are from these games,” Domingo said.