The Proteas begin the rebuilding steps towards the legacy
they once held away from home with the start of the three-Test series against
Australia at the WACA ground in Perth on Thursday.
The Proteas ended their
nine-year undefeated run away from home, the longest by any team, with the 3-0
loss to India last year, and have earmarked this series as the start of a
journey towards reclaiming the status.
Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, says the current squad has
identified new goals for the season, which includes nine Tests, and have set
about creating their own identity and style of play.
“You can’t just rely on playing well under your home
conditions,” he said to the media in Perth on Wednesday. “Teams that are number
one also need to play the best away from home, that is something that we need
to start building up again. We were declining in our performances after we lost
the number one position.
“We are on a new journey as team,” he said. “We don’t want
to be that team of the past, we have our own goals that we want to achieve. I
think that was one of the most important things we needed to change as a team.
For a year we were playing in the shadow of the team that used to be number one
and with a lot of personalities missing it was difficult to do that.
“We have a better direction of where we want to go as a
team, we started well against New Zealand, we won that Test series in South
Africa, but this will be a test to see how we go against a strong Australian
The series is only du Plessis’ second as Test captain, but
is a rare opportunity for him to become only the second South African captain,
after Graeme Smith, to win a series against Australia in Australia. The
32-year-old admits that although he has grown in the leadership role since his
appointment, he will be open to some advice from Smith and AB de Villiers, who
have been supportive on the side-lines.
“That’s the great thing about captaincy, I’ve found out that
you never stop learning,” he said. “I’m extremely grateful that I have been put
in a situation where I have been given the Test team when I am slightly older,
a bit more mature and understand myself as a leader a bit better. There are a
few things that have worked well and a few that haven’t worked well.
“I think it’s also different depending on what team you play
with,” he continued. “Right now we are a team that wants to improve and wants
to get better. We have huge learning heads on our shoulders, there are no egos
in our team, if you have guys like that it is very easy to captain. I also find
that I learn a lot from the players, I find that it’s important for a captain
to put himself out there and live what he wants from the players from the