SA in New Zealand
Kirsten: Proteas improving
Cape Town - The Castle Lager Proteas have ticked two out of the three boxes of accomplishments on their current tour of New Zealand, with their mission for the third tick starting at the University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday.
The three-match National Bank Test Series is the final hurdle for the touring party, after successive T20 and ODI series victories and while the momentum weighs in favour of the Proteas, coach Gary Kirsten feels it will be essential to make a quick mental transition to the longer format.
“We’re looking forward to the series, it’s been a great tour for us so far,” Kirsten said. “I think we have played better as the games have gone along but it’s a new format and we need to make sure that we are mentally ready and up for it.”
The Proteas’ juggernaut has gained speed and momentum as the tour has progressed, and should move up a gear with the experience and stability represented within the Test squad.
The five players who joined the squad four days ago have settled comfortably into the routine on tour, and even though they join the tour with domestic cricket under their belts, adapting to the local conditions will be critical.
“The next two days are going to be important for us from a training perspective, especially the repetition of hitting balls and making sure that the bowlers get their bowling up to speed. It’s a quick turnaround from formats so it is important for us to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared come Wednesday.”
The conditions, both on and off the field have been the talking point in the lead up to the match, with pundits predicting a good batting wicket coupled with bitterly cold temperatures.
Kirsten is not fazed by what is served up by the Otago Cricket Association’s curator or even the weather gods, because winning under all circumstances is part of the process of becoming the No 1 Test team in the world.
“We have to be able to play in any conditions and make the type of plays during the game that are going to allow us to have the success that we are looking for,” he said. "We know what our strengths are and we feel that if we can really play to our strengths against any team that we come up against, we are going to be a tough team to beat.
“Whatever sort of conditions we are confronted with don’t bother us. If we are going to be the best Test team in the world, which is what we want to be, we are going to have to play in any situation. We will not be scared of conditions or scared of what is dished up at us. We feel we have enough skill in our team to be able to handle all different circumstances.”