Not rotating their Test bowlers is South Africa's main focus as they look ahead to back-to-back Tests against Pakistan. The squad dispersed after their 211-run win in Johannesburg and will reconvene on Monday, with the bowlers ordered to take a few days off to prepare for the Cape Town and Centurion Tests, which are only three days apart later in the month.
Bowling workloads are a worldwide concern and have resulted in player rotation in other countries, most notably Australia. South Africa's coach Gary Kirsten said management understand the need to monitor game time but they do not want to swap players in the Test side and would prefer that to happen in limited-overs matches.
As a result, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel do not feature in all South Africa's ODI and T20 games so they are kept fit for Test cricket. They are, however, likely to play in all the Tests and so it is required that they are managed carefully to achieve that aim. Robin Peterson does not face the same physical demands but plays in all formats for South Africa while Vernon Philander has played largely as a Test specialist but has had niggles in recent times that will benefit from a break.
"Sunday and Monday, to a certain extent, were heavy bowling days so it is important for us to give them the adequate recovery periods but enough time to prepare properly for the upcoming back-to-back Test matches," Rob Walter, strength and conditioning coach, said. "The tricky part is that we don't know whether or not the Test in Cape Town will go five days and if it does, we need the bowlers fresh enough to deal with the short turnaround in time."
South Africa spent 100.4 overs in the field in Pakistan's second innings from the first session on day three to just after lunch on day four. They had a light load earlier in the match, when they bowled Pakistan out for 49 inside 30 overs.
The entire squad could theoretically play in the final round of first-class matches, which take place from Thursday, but only those who were not part of the starting XI will. Rory Kleinveldt and Jacques Rudolph will play for the Cobras and Titans respectively while Imran Tahir, who was added to the squad as cover for Peterson, will turn out for the Lions, as he did last weekend when Peterson was declared fit.
The playing XI "have been given specific schedules for the week," Walter said. "The bowlers have been given a few days off and will begin bowling on Thursday and Friday. The rest of the players in the squad have been given gym strength and conditioning programmes to follow."
Contrastingly, Pakistan hope to put in as much practice as possible in the ten-day break before the second Test. They will play a two-day match against a Western Province XI in Cape Town from Sunday but have practices scheduled in the city from tomorrow, when they are due to arrive there.