Faf Du Plessis draws confidence from batting display
That was how captain Faf du Plessis summarised the application shown by his batsmen on the final day of the second Test against the English at Newlands on Tuesday.
Having come off a 3-0 series loss in India, South Africa did well to recover and win the first Test against England at Centurion, especially with a new coaching staff and director of cricket in place.
Some of the old bad habits were back in Cape Town, with Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock giving away their wickets too easily as the Proteas tried to save the second Test.
Heading into the third Test that starts at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth next Thursday, the skipper was encouraged by the fighting spirit displayed as South Africa fell just 8.2 overs short of securing a draw at Newlands.
“One or two mental errors, but if you look at it from a batting-unit point of view, from where we were two months ago - where we were very weak mentally in India, where we exploded pretty quickly” Du Plessis said.
“(The second innings) was an opportunity for us - if we were mentally weak - to go in a similar direction, and we didn’t. It’s just about improving as a young Test team, and making sure we are getting better.
“Sometimes you will still lose by improving, and that was the case for me in the last two days. As a batting unit, we can take confidence from seeing guys like Pieter Malan, and the way he played. Rassie (van der Dussen) dropping anchor there, doing what the team needs.
“There were some real good signs from a batting point of view in this Test match. Yes, there is still room for improvement, but I do feel we are improving.”
The Proteas are taking a breather for a few days before gathering in Port Elizabeth, with Du Plessis stating they need to “fill the tanks with petrol”.
But he also added that the brains trust will “look at the balance of the team - what would work the best there. And make sure that we work on the areas of the game where we are not yet where we should be”.
While Malan is likely to continue as Aiden Markram’s replacement, the bowling attack could be tweaked for what is often a slow and low St George’s Park pitch.
Apart from Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Anrich Nortje and Keshav Maharaj as the specialist bowlers from the second Test, and Dwaine Pretorius as an all-rounder, other options in the squad include Dane Paterson, Beuran Hendricks and Andile Phehlukwayo.