Centurion - The Proteas, after a dismal 2019, are
back to winning ways having knocked over England in
the first Test at Centurion and skipper Faf du Plessis acknowledged
a sense of relief on Sunday.
The 35-year-old was at the helm for this year's disastrous World Cup
campaign, where the Proteas finished 7th and never came close to contending for
a semi-final place, while he was also in charge of an embarrassing 2-0 home
series Test defeat to Sri Lanka back in February and then a 3-0 Test hammering
in India in September.
In addition to the poor results on the field, Du Plessis and his players
have looked on helplessly this year and witnessed one of the darkest periods of
Cricket South Africa's (CSA) administrative history.
Things came to tipping point earlier this month when CEO Thabang Moroe was
suspended by the organisation and at that stage, with less than three weeks to
go until the start of the England series, the national side had no permanent
coaching staff and no convenor of selectors.
After Moroe was suspended, the CSA board appointed Jacques Faul as the
acting CEO while former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith was unveiled as the new
director of cricket.
Mark Boucher was then given a contract as head coach until the 2023 World
Cup while Enoch Nkwe, who had previously been the interim team director, was
given the assistant coach role.
Linda Zondi was reinstated as acting convenor of selectors.
In addition, Jacques Kallis was brought in as a batting consultant and
Charl Langeveldt was named the bowling coach. Somehow, the Proteas had
scrambled together a management team rich in experience and pedigree and they
were able to prepare for the Boxing Day Test.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty over exactly what the future
leadership of the organisation will look like, Du Plessis said after the
107-run win that there was now a feeling of stability in South African cricket
again and that it had contributed greatly to victory at SuperSport Park.
"There is a lot more confidence in the structures coming from the
top," he said, sitting alongside Boucher at the post-match press
"There were obviously plans in place before, but I feel that now
there are better plans in place.
"We've got the right people in the right jobs and we've got the right
people at the top of CSA, which is really important.
"Leadership always comes from the top and it filters down. I feel
like by starting that, it set the tone for how we are playing right now.
"You have to put those things in place for the things underneath to
work in your favour. That's a start for us as a team and now we can trust the
system a little bit more and focus on playing cricket."
Du Plessis acknowledged that this had been a difficult year, with the
Proteas having lost five Tests in a row for only the second time since readmission.
"It's been a tough season for the Test team, and it's been a while
since our last victory," he said.
"This week there was a really good feeling in the camp that we had
done some good stuff before the Test match.
"We knew we needed to put in some performances to get the thing
The Proteas will now have a short break before heading to Cape Town for
the second Test at Newlands, which gets underway on January 3.