Sharjah – It’s not an ideal way to prepare for a long tour, Proteas coach Russell Domingo said on his arrival in the Emirates at the weekend.
The South Africans, who last played in a Test in February – that was at home against Pakistan whom they whipped 3-0 in the series – have not been together as a team. But Domingo believes his players are mature enough to realise the importance of the task ahead of the two-match Test, five-game ODI and two-match Twenty20 International series.
The two-match Test Series is what he is focusing on at this stage and he will have all his personnel together – Faf du Plessis, who played for the Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League T20 in the sub-continent arriving midway through the first practice session to complete the touring party. Proteas trainer Greg King, who was also in India for the T20 event, will be joining the touring party today.
“Ideally, we would have loved to have played two warm-up games ahead of a long tour,” Domingo said. “That would have settled us down nicely for the Test matches.
“When you get here it’s always stifling but we will get used to it (the weather) after a couple of days.
“When you are on a long tour, you want two warm-up games. One warm-up game is not ideal. But it’s better than nothing. Fortunately for us, some of the guys have been playing cricket in the Champions League while Hashim (Amla) was playing county cricket and others were preparing with their franchises.”
When asked how he would approach the three-day warm-up game against Pakistan A, starting at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium tomorrow, the coach said that he would give 13 players a run-out over the three days.
“It’s important to get all the players up to speed ahead of the Tests,” he said.
South Africa occupy the No1 spot on the ICC Test rankings and Domingo believes it has been earned through sheer hard work and dedication.
“We have re-emphasised the important elements that made this Test side so successful and we want to continue to execute those aspects of preparation. They are a mature bunch of cricketers, and have been around for a while,” Domingo said.
Domingo said he was only thinking as far as the first Test, starting on October 14 in Abu Dhabi and he wants to get the squad in tune by the time the contest begins.
“We are a week away from the first Test. And this being a long way from Pakistan in terms of distance, we don’t know what to expect as far as the pitch is concerned. We’ve been involved in some series where we wanted a certain type of wicket and we didn’t get it. So there’s no need to look too far ahead at this moment.”
Meanwhile, his star all-rounder, Jacques Kallis is fit, ready and keen to get back into battle after a prolonged lay-off.
“Jacques is fesh and very excited to go. It’s the longest break he has had in his career. He is fit physically and mentally – so that’s good for us.
“He is a great professional. He knows the standards he has achieved and what he needs to do to maintain those standards,” Domingo said.
South African Test squad: Graeme Smith (capt), Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Imran Tahir, Jacques Kallis, Rory Kleinveldt, Morné Morkel, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Thami Tsolekile.