South African cricket fans have gone more than three months without seeing their team in action, so when they eventually catch a glimpse of them, the supporters may want to see things from every angle - even an aerial one.
At least that is what CSA had in mind when they sent their in-house media department to Bangladesh with a drone, in the hope of obtaining "creative views and images to use for our YouTube channel," as team manager Mohammad Moosajee put it. The only problem was that Bangladesh does not accommodate unmanned aerial vehicles in its airspace and that includes flying cameras.
After spotting the drone over the National Cricket Academy on Wednesday, during South Africa's first training session, BCB officials ordered South Africa to ground the drone, but not before it captured at least one picture. A bird's eye view of the Mirpur venue was as much as CSA managed to share.
For the record, South Africa have apologised to the Bangladesh military and security personnel for breaching protocol and promised not to use the device again. "We were unaware of the strict security protocols with regards to the Bangladesh airspace and have subsequently stopped using the device," Moosajee said.
But the nifty device may have done its job after all. The headlines with the words "drone," and "cricket," in the same sentence could help bump up the publicity of a series that has yet to properly hit the radar at home, despite South Africa's long absence from international cricket.
On Thursday, three days before the first match of the series, a leading daily The Cape Times had no cricket stories in at least one of its editions and coverage of the Bangladesh series has been low across the country. With build-up to the rugby World Cup in full swing, Kevin Anderson performing admirably at Wimbledon, and the football transfer window still wide open, cricket is struggling to make the back pages, but that may change come next week.
Even if it doesn't, JP Duminy indicated the low-profile nature of the series will not impact their motivation. "It doesn't matter where you're representing your country or who you're playing against, it's always an honour and you've got to make sure you give your 100%," he said. "We're definitely not coming here thinking it's going to be a walkover. We know it's going to be tough and we're going to have to play our best cricket to beat Bangladesh."
There's nothing pretentious about the respect South Africa are showing Bangladesh. After series wins over Pakistan and India, Bangladesh are establishing themselves as an attacking force at home and Duminy said South Africa will need to work on their 'counterpunch,' for the series. "We've seen, especially in the last year or two, how well Bangladesh have competed, especially in ICC tournaments. They've definitely improved and they're even more challenging in their own conditions," he said.
Spin is the obvious advantage Bangladesh will have, with six spinners in their squad and conditions expected to take turn despite the rise of Bangladesh's seamers. But it's Bangladesh's ability to surprise that South Africa will also be looking out for, as they aim to become a more dynamic side ahead of the World Twenty20. "We understand we need to be flexible in our game plans and batting positions, and who is going to be best suited for situations," Duminy said.
South Africa will have their first opportunity to put those plans in place in Friday's warm-up match against BCB XI. Even without the aid of a drone, Duminy explained they will use the practice game primarily to examine and assess the conditions. "We want to get a feel for conditions. A lot of us have been off for a month so it's about getting used to conditions and the pace of the ball and then we discuss that amongst ourselves," he said. "That's the crucial part - that we share the knowledge. A lot of us have played in these conditions over a few years, so its just about having some time in the middle."