PORT ELIZABETH – Proteas captain Faf du Plessis has called on his team to let the “cricket do the talking” in the second Test against Australia here at St George’s Park on Friday.
With the series engulfed in controversy after Australia’s David Warner (75%) and Nathan Lyon (15%) and South Africa’s Quinton de Kock (25%) were hit with match-fee fines due to their behaviour during the ill-tempered first Test in Durban, Du Plessis wants his team to focus on levelling the series.
“It is a big game for us. We need to make sure our cricket does the talking. We have spoken behind closed doors about lessons learnt. It is big for us, we need to make sure we get back in this series after going down 1-0,” Du Plessis told a packed media house on Thursday.
This is in contrast to reports coming out of the Australian camp with Warner stressing that he will continue to “live and die by the sword” despite being one demerit away from a suspension, while Nathan Lyon has referred to “headbutting the line”.
“I think it is the norm for me when you playing against Australia,” Du Plessis said. “I have a lot of respect for every single team, and the style of play they come with, and what they believe that’s the style they need to play with. When you play against a team like New Zealand, they are the nice guys, they really friendly and they don’t believe they need to play like that, and they obviously a team that gets results in the way they play.
“I don’t think as captain of the Proteas, we don’t look to push that line. We don’t look to find the grey areas. For me it is very simple, we try to play a positive brand of cricket with very good body language, intensity of you look the guy in the eye, and you show them that you are here to play the game and you are here to compete and win a game of cricket.
If you look in the past we not a team that focuses on verbals. We just focus on making the cricket do the talking.
South Africa have yet to finalise their starting XI with Du Plessis indicating the hosts are pondering one possible change. Temba Bavuma batted for a long period in the nets on Thursday morning “pain free” after injuring his hand last month and the selectors are considering replacing Theunis de Bruyn with Bavuma, although Du Plessis is concerned with the lack of game time the Cape Cobras batsman has had recently.
“We are just talking about the conditions and what the best team is for this surface. We are still talking about and we haven’t decided as yet,” Du Plessis explained. “Temba’s hand is much better. He wasn’t ready the previous game.
“I think Temba is batting pain free. It is just the power in the hand. He is still getting that back. It is obviously a little bit different to us with our finger injuries that you can take your finger off the bat. Your hand is always on the bat. The decision for us is to decide about the fact that he hasn’t played in a while and whether it’s the right decision for him to come straight back.”
Likely Proteas team:
Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (capt), Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock (capt), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel.
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