DURBAN – Proteas coach Ottis Gibson expressed general satisfaction after his team’s two-day workout against the Sri Lankan Board XI in Colombo over the weekend.
“I think, for the most part, we got what we wanted. I though we bowled very well (on Saturday). I think it is about getting used to conditions at this stage, and we knew that the wicket was going to be slow. This was about getting miles into the bowlers legs,” he said.
There is a very short build-up to what is a big series for the Proteas, with the first Test starting in Galle on Thursday. Half of Gibson’s bowling stocks have never played in Sri Lanka before, so the past few days have been worthwhile in that sense.
“Vernon (Philander) and Dale (Steyn) have played here before, but this is new for Lungi (Ngidi) and (Kagiso) Rabada. It’s good for them to see what it’s like. “Obviously KG is coming back from injury, Dale was in England, and Vern has had some time out of the game. I thought (Tabraiz) Shamsi was excellent, and really hit the ground running. He has really put himself in the frame for a Test place,” Gibson noted.
Shamsi helped himself to figures of 5/45 in 13.2 overs, taking advantage of Keshav Maharaj’s absence through sickness.
“Keshav ... over the last year or so, he has been a world-class performer for us, at home and in Australia and England.
So he has not had much experience in sub-continent conditions, where he would get a lot of help,” Gibson pointed out.
Shamsi and Shaun von Berg both got chances in the middle, but it was the left-armer who grabbed it with both hands.
With Galle expected to be dry, he has given Gibson and company some food for thought. His batters also gave him reason to be enthused, with half-centuries for Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma and skipper Faf du Plessis.
More than that, the scoring was at a healthy rate, playing the positive cricket that Gibson prefers.