Cape Town - The Proteas
will be eyeing a fresh start to reclaiming their test supremacy when they take
on New Zealand in the opening Sunfoil test match at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in
Durban on Friday.
Stand-in captain, Faf du Plessis, says he is relishing the
opportunity to challenge his captaincy skills in the longest format of the
game, after serving as one-day and T20 captain for South Africa.
The 32 year-old will become
the 11th player to captain the Proteas in a test match since
re-admission, and leads a squad determined to return to winning ways and to
move up from the lowly seventh position in the ICC test rankings.
of AB de Villiers as a leader and in the line-up will be glaring, however, Du
Plessis has full confidence in the selected batsmen to make contributions,
particularly after patchy series against India and England.
“Being named captain is an
incredible honour,” Du Plessis said to the media in Durban on Thursday. “I’ve
been fortunate enough to do it in the one-day and T20’s but there is just
something special about test cricket.
“It’s a new season, we need
to focus on the strength of our batting line-up and the only way we can do that
is by putting runs on the board,” he explained.
“We have been practising hard
and the guys look like they are in a good space. Obviously AB leaves a bit of a
hole, he is also a huge member of our test line-up, even if you look at his
statistics over the last period, India definitely had an effect on all of us.
It’s nice that that season is done, we can focus on a new season which will
hopefully be a good one to come, especially for the batsmen.”
The duo of Dale Steyn and
Vernon Philander return to make up their lethal new-ball pairing after nearly
eight months apart, and along with Kagiso Rabada, form an explosive attack well
balanced by experience and raw pace.
“Both of them are fit and
they will both play,” Du Plessis said of Steyn and Philander.
two massive bowlers for us and we will be the first to say that we saw against
England that you cannot replace an experienced bowling attack. If you take
Southee and Boult out of New Zealand or an Anderson and Broad out of England
they are all different teams. They are guys that can relentlessly bowl good
areas for a long period of time, there is no substitute for that in test
cricket. Young bowlers can come in a do well in any other format, but I think
in test cricket experience is really important.”