Players on the fringes of the South African men's team were afforded an opportunity to integrate with senior stars at the recently completed culture camp. The squad of 32 included the 16 contracted members of the national side as well as the High-Performance unit and the white-ball captain Quinton de Kock highlighted exactly why it was important for them to mingle.
"In this environment, even though you're contracted, it doesn't mean that you're guaranteed to play," he said in a CSA press release on Thursday. "So I think it was important that the up and coming players needed to be there with the squad. This is professional sport and we're trying to play the best team that we can. If a younger guy is performing and he gets an opportunity, it doesn't help that he hasn't been here and he doesn't know anything.
"We've seen what they've done in the franchise system and we know there's a potential future for them in the team, so it was important for them to come here. It was great to learn some views from the younger guys and help them understand the situation with the Proteas and how we want to go about things."
South African cricket has recently been waylaid by stories of racial tension. This culture camp, which took place at Kruger National Park earlier this month, was a way to address that tension and at the end of it, it was decided that the South African team should never again be a place where players experience isolation or feel unable to express their feelings, and should foster respect, belonging and empathy. In service of that, their "Protea Fire" identity has been put on hold.
"I think it's been really good," de Kock said. "We've had a lot of good chats which I think the team needed. Everyone is leaving feeling a lot better about the environment and about themselves. A lot of guys got things off their back. We feel a lot more comfortable as a team going forward, which was needed… we're excited about going into the future now.
"We are human and we make mistakes," he continued. "We're trying to get better in what we're doing in our professions, that's why we got together. I can't promise results but I can promise that we'll get better and we are learning, which will give us the best chance of getting better results."
Players who attended the camp: Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Anrich Nortje, Beuran Hendricks, Bjorn Fortuin, Daryn Dupavillon, David Miller, Dean Elgar, Dwaine Pretorius, George Linde, Glenton Stuurman, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Junior Dala, Kagiso Rabada, Keegan Petersen, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Verryenne, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Pieter Malan, Pite Van Biljon, Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Rudi Second, Senuran Muthusamy, Sisanda Magala, Tabraiz Shamsi, Temba Bavuma, Zubayr Hamza, Theunis de Bruyn.
Faf du Plessis was unable to join the team due to the birth of his second daughter, Zoey.