Asking Faf du Plessis to lead the Proteas under very trying circumstances is no small request but the man at the helm for the remainder of the series against the Black Caps believes that his role is likely to be made far easier by the fact that he will lead a team with no shortage of experience.
The top order batsmen and apparently bowling option for this afternoon’s highly anticipated second ODI at 2.30pm in Kimberley will have his work cut out for him but didn’t seem to be lacking confidence at the team’s pre-match conference at the De Beers Diamond Oval yesterday.
There may not be too much reason to panic just yet but an unexpected loss in Paarl and the subsequent suspension of AB de Villiers has thrown a spanner in the works for a, until recently, high-flying side.
Du Plessis believes that there is no crisis at this stage but rather a golden opportunity for the Proteas to show just how much depth they have at their disposal.
As for the leadership role, the captain believes that having the likes of Hashim Amla and Graeme Smith on his flanks will make his task far easier.
“Losing AB is a big blow. He is one of the best batsmen in the world and he will be sorely missed at the top of the order. At the same time it gives us a golden opportunity to gauge the batsmen we have at our disposal and is also a superb chance for some of the other guys to show what they can do.
“It was nice surprise to be selected as captain and am really hoping to do well. Our T20 side did very well and that was without the experience of guys like Hashim and Graeme and they will definitely be helping me with the captaincy.”
With coach Gary Kirsten only arriving in Kimberley yesterday morning the Proteas are yet to announce their starting XI.
“We will probably get together tonight and decide who is playing and at this stage we haven’t decided on a team just yet.
“It looks like a good wicket and think that we could be in for a feast of runs. We are hoping for a bit of bounce as a slow wicket will favour New Zealand.”
The captain added that should they again run into trouble of needing an extra bowling option or face not finishing their allotted overs in time, he may well be taking the ball himself.
“I may come in as the sixth bowler depending on what the wicket is doing or if we need to get through our overs quickly.”
One thing is for certain and that is that the Proteas will have to bowl a more consistent line and length while their batsmen will be requiring at least on individual performance to alleviate the pressure created by Saturday’s loss.
“It’s actually quite nice to be under a little pressure.
“Things didn’t go well in Paarl and we will need to deliver a better performance. We need guys to bat through to 80 or 100 while we will need to cut down on extras.
“We weren’t aware of our slow over rate during the match in Paarl but at times the game felt very long and with a number of overs worth of extras bowled we also had our time cut short. I think our bowlers are old enough to know better and they will have to do better .”
Meanwhile, the Black Caps were not about to let the heat of Kimberley get to them yesterday and Nathan McCullum said that considering the fact that they were playing three matches in the space of a week, ensuring that everybody is well rested and avoids burnout thanks to too much time in the unforgiving sun were very high on the sides priority list.
When the Kiwis took to the field for their final training session of the match, temperatures were in the high 30s.
“We will need to be smart about the heat as we are playing three games on top of each other. It was really hot in Paarl and is likely to be hot again today so it is very important that we don’t wear ourselves out by putting in too much hard work at training.
“We didn’t do as well in Paarl as we could have and will need to make an improvement across the board in Kimberley if we want to win the series.” - The Star