Cape Town - Proteas head coach, Russell Domingo, says his players are ‘hungry to put in good Test performances’ ahead of the first Test match against New Zealand starting at Kingsmead on Friday, August 19.
The two-match series brings an end to a seven-month Test hiatus, which ended with the 280-run win against England in January, and is the start of an 11-Test season which also includes series against Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
“We play 11 Tests this season and six are away, we don’t play a lot of Tests at home, it is the pinnacle for our players,” Domingo said to the media on Sunday.
“It’s the format that they look forward to the most because of all the history and stature that is associated with Test cricket. We are excited about it and are looking forward to it, the players are hungry to put in good Test performances this season.”
The majority of the squad has been in action for South Africa 'A' and their respective CPL and English County sides, which gives Domingo encouragement of the match readiness coming out of the winter off-season.
New Zealand are coming off a 2-0 series win against Zimbabwe and will have their tails up in search of their first Test series win in South Africa.
“A lot of our players have been playing,” he explained.
“If you look at the list, Elgar, Bavuma, Philander, Cook, Piedt have all just come back from Australia. They played two tough four-day games there and they played a couple in Zimbabwe. Amla and Du Plessis have been at the CPL, it’s a different format but they have been playing cricket. Dale has also been playing cricket so there is no feeling, in my opinion, of being undercooked. We haven’t played this format in nearly eight months but at least we have played a lot of cricket in different countries and different formats.
“They seem to be a happy team at the moment,” Domingo said when asked of his opinion of the Black Caps.
“We know that they have never won a Test series in South Africa, that is a record that we want to maintain and hold on to. They have been playing good cricket, they have just come off a series win and have played good one-day cricket, we know it’s going to be a tough challenge for us but also for them.”
The coach has enlisted the services of former Proteas wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, to work with the team for three days in preparation for the match.
“Mark is a guy that is highly respected,” he said of the 147-Test match veteran.
“It will be good, particularly for a young Quinton de Kock, to spend some time with him working on his wicketkeeping, give a few fielding drills for us and to be around the team for a few days. It will also be good for him to work with some of our lower-order batsmen. He has the reputation of having that fighting spirit and epitomising what the Proteas stand for in terms of being tough and never giving up.”