Cape Town - Stephen Cook on Thursday admitted to the South Africa A team’s disappointment after failing to win the first Test against Zimbabwe A in Harare earlier this week.
He nevertheless is confident they can win the series with victory in the second Test starting in Bulawayo on Friday.
The visitors, whose squad includes six players with Test experience, batted exceptionally well in the first of two four-day matches on the tour, losing just nine wickets as they twice declared having scored an aggregate of over 600 runs.
But they struggled to finish off the hosts, taking 11 out of the 20 wickets in almost 170 overs.
Cook, though, was pleased on the whole and hoped they would be even better at the Queens Sports Club.
“The guys are disappointed that we couldn’t force a result, but having said that the guys did play really well,” he said. “The batters got time in the middle and basically everybody got some runs.
“The bowlers too did well, hit the right areas, but just went unrewarded on a pretty good pitch.
“But now we’re looking forward to the second Test. The guys are really hopeful that we can play well. Being the second time in the middle, hopefully the guys are a little bit sharper and we can play even better.”
The four players who did not get a game at the Harare Sports Club are Qaasim Adams, Keshav Maharaj, Duanne Olivier and Andile Phehlukwayo, with Cook hinting there could be changes for the second game.
"We’ve got a fantastic squad here, all 15 members can contribute,” he added. “There might be one or two changes, depending on conditions, so we’re looking forward and are really upbeat despite not managing to force a win.
“I think the general attitude within the squad has been excellent and the guys are training hard. So we’re hugely optimistic.”
Coach Malibongwe Maketa was equally bullish about their Bulawayo prospects, saying they would hope to build on what was done in Harare.
“What we can take from the first game is that we’re actually in a good place in terms of the player performance point of view,” he stated. “Yes we didn’t convert most of the fifties to hundreds, but in saying that, guys haven’t batted under pressure situations for a long time and for them to come out and get fifties and Omphile Ramela to come out and get a hundred was very encouraging and pleasing for us as a team.”
Regarding the bowling, he added: “From a bowling point of view we built pressure in partnerships at times, we know we can do that for longer periods of time, which will be our focus going into the second game.
“So we’ll be looking to get even better in this game.”