Johannesburg - The Proteas will take some encouraging confidence from their brief outing in the drawn opening Test against New Zealand at Kingsmead.
Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, admits it was a disappointing end after an entertaining 100 overs of cricket, and hopes to carry the positives on to the deciding second Test starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday.
“Personally for me there were a few positives that came from it,” he said to the media on Tuesday morning after the umpires called off the fifth day due to a soft and muddy outfield.
After winning the toss on a greenish wicket, our opening pair had a solid partnership upfront against a high-quality seam attack. That was great to see, they were patient and played with real authority.
“Looking back to what we got, it was a good score after we saw how Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander bowled. We were disappointed not to get around 350, that would have been par on a wicket like that after we got ourselves into positions where we just needed one guy to bat a little bit longer for a 75 or 100-plus score.
“The bowling was fantastic,” he said in praise. “The guys were relentless in hitting excellent areas, they didn’t give the New Zealand batsmen any free runs, that is how important experience is in a test line-up, to give the opposition nothing to hit.”
Despite the rain-affected outfield conditions, the captain was impressed with the Kingsmead pitch, which showed the qualities of a balanced test wicket giving assistance to both bat and ball. Du Plessis insists maintaining the intensity the squad has created over the last week will be vital as they head into a ‘must-win’ clash on Saturday, especially after the lengthy idle time off the field.
“It was a great cricket wicket,” he said. “There was some movement and swing for the bowlers, and if you knuckled down and were prepared to bat for time there were some runs as well. It was a fantastic cricket wicket for this time of the year, if the weather was good it would have been a good test match.
“The one-off match is now a decider, we are going to have to be on top of our game. It’s back to the nets for us, we have done quite a bit of training over the last few days even with the rain. Our team is in a good space, we were dying to get out there and play some good cricket.
"We have to focus on Centurion, it doesn’t normally rain during the winter- touch wood- so we can hopefully have a good game of cricket there.”