Cape Town - The Proteas
will be looking to raise the bar in their performances in 2017 after a strong
finish to the year with a convincing 206-run win against Sri Lanka in the first
Sunfoil Test match in Port Elizabeth this week.
The Proteas started the year with a poor
2-1 series loss to England, but capped it off with series wins against New
Zealand and Australia, while heading into the new year with a 1-0 lead in the
three-match series against Sri Lanka.
The Proteas have overcome
changes in leadership and injuries to key players, but look a settled and
confident unit after some introspection and reflection at a culture camp held
halfway through the year.
There have been many standout performers; from the
determination of Stephen Cook, who was the leading run-scorer with 575 runs and
three centuries, to Kagiso Rabada, who continued to set the pace as one of the
leading fast bowlers on the international circuit.
The Proteas finished the year
as the fourth ranked team on the ICC Test rankings, and their ascendancy back
to the top will depend on the consistency of their performances going forward.
2017 will be the litmus test for the squad under the leadership of Faf du
Plessis, with tours to New Zealand and England set to give an indication of how
great the squad can be.
Du Plessis has
urged his players to be hungry for better performances and results despite the
current run of form.
“I feel that we are batting
well as a unit,” Du Plessis said after the first Test.
“It comes in individual greatness,
and I feel that we can do a little bit more as a unit. Whether it’s two guys
getting a hundred per innings or one guy getting two hundreds in a series.
Lifting that bar a little bit higher and not being happy with getting to 300
and winning the game but actually pushing to 400 or 350.
about not settling,” he stressed.
“It’s important for this team that even
though we are playing really well, we must make sure that we look at areas,
especially when we are winning, where we can improve.”