Cricket

Centurion outfield set to pass the test

2016-08-26 17:59
Faf du Plessis (Gallo Images)

Centurion - After the embarrassment of an abandoned first Test, South African captain Faf du Plessis proclaimed on Friday that conditions for the second and final Test against New Zealand at SuperSport Park, starting Saturday, were excellent.

He was less happy that the series will be decided in what effectively is a one-off match.

Less than 100 overs of play was possible in the first Test in Durban before a wet, soft, recently re-seeded outfield made further play impossible after rain on the second day.

But Centurion is completely different. A lush, green outfield, planted with winter grass in April, had hometown player Du Plessis excited.

"It's in fantastic nick, the outfield is looking amazing. It's the best I've ever seen it," he said.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was less effusive but said: "It looks a good outfield, there don't seem to be too many clouds about and there should be no problems."

With no rain expected, the match looks set to go the distance. The unknown is the pitch.

"It looks a touch on the soft side and a bit moist," said Du Plessis. "We're not too sure what to expect, I think it might be slow."

With South Africa a lowly seventh in the Test rankings, Du Plessis said the team wanted to play more Test matches in longer series.

"A two-match series is too short. With the current schedule, having five-match series is going to be hard in the future.

"I personally like three or four Test series. With two Tests you only just get going and unfortunately a once-off here is what we've been dealt."

Williamson was less concerned about the prospect of one match deciding the series.

"You don't have too many lotteries in Test cricket. Over five days, generally the team that plays more consistent cricket wins the game or at least gets ahead in the match.

"It is a shame that we aren't able to play two full Tests or even more but that is what it is, so our preparations are very much on adapting to this surface and hopefully putting out a strong performance.

"But it would be nice to play three or more Tests in a series. The more you play against the same opposition the more you learn about them."

Du Plessis said the South African batsmen had all looked in good form in Durban, although he was disappointed that none had gone on to make a big score.

He said the biggest disappointment was having to go off for what proved to be the rest of the match after Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander had reduced New Zealand to 15 for two.

"New Zealand are not a team who bat down to 10 and 11, so you can get through their high-quality batsmen at the top of the order, you can put some pressure on them."

Williamson responded that New Zealand fielded the best-balanced team they could.

"It would be nice to have a seam bowling all-rounder but that is a luxury we don't have. The lower order is always looking to improve and someone like Doug Bracewell is looking to try to play that all-rounder role.

"At the same time the most important thing is to pick a side that can take 20 wickets and win a Test."

Du Plessis said New Zealand had enjoyed success with a positive brand of cricket under previous captain Brendon McCullum.

"They are a team that know how they want to play. It will be interesting to see if that stays with them now with Kane as the captain."

Read more on:    new zealand  |  proteas  |  faf du plessis  |  cricket
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