South Africa’s emphatic 280-run win against England in the fourth Test match at SuperSport Park on Tuesday is a welcome step in the right direction. The almost flawless performance in Centurion is a positive end to a challenging season of Test cricket, and is a promising sign of the way forward for the squad. Captain AB De Villiers says: ‘It’s definitely a step in the right direction. We didn’t play very good cricket at the Wanderers but I still felt that our attitude was really good. We were there to win the Test match but we had one blow out session. I think there is something brewing and a bit of confidence starting to develop. There is some experience coming into the side mixed with good youth and lots of talent. There are a lot of reasons to be positive, we are not going to get ahead of ourselves, there is a lot of hard work to be done. There are a lot of reasons to feel like we are moving in the right direction. We are only playing Test cricket in six months’ time so it’s a lot of time to break things up.’
De Villiers says he ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ captaining the team in the two matches this series and is excited about the future of the Test squad, who’s next series is only in August against New Zealand at home: ‘Tough times are part of the game and part of an individual’s career. It comes when a team is going through a phase. I never felt like it was panic stations even though we never won a match in eight or nine matches. Things came together, we applied pressure for a bit longer, did the basics better than we have done in the last while. Those are the kind of things I have been asking for over the last 14 days and luckily we got it right here.’
The captain struggled to find the superlatives to describe Kagiso Rabada’s record-breaking performance, but feels it is one of the highlights of his career to be the captain of such a dominant performance. Rabada says: ‘What more is there to say about the man sitting next to me. Every time I asked him to come out and perform for us he did. He showed the maturity of a guy that has played a 100 Test matches with the pace of a guy that has played one or two. It’s difficult to find the compliments and to say the right things but he has impressed us all. He has to be looked after really well, it’s up to us and the management to manage him well and to make sure he is always fresh when he walks out on the cricket field, that’s important. He is the future, he along with a few other guys. Having guys like him coming through excites the captain and coach, I’m very happy with what he has achieved this series.’
Rabada himself was still basking in all of the glory of the morning’s events, and gave credit to a team effort for his first taste of a Test win. The 20-year-old says: ‘It’s amazing. It’s been a while since we have won, we have been losing a lot, but we have stuck together as a team. AB touched on being positive in every game that we play and I think it showed here. Everyone played magnificently well, it was a real team effort. I’m happy that we won and that I contributed. The ball was coming out really nicely. I felt good rhythm as the match went on, when I first started it was okay but as the match went on I felt more rhythm and better. What I focus on is doing the basics right, if that gets me wickets its gets me wickets. I can only control the controllables, I don’t look at stats too much.
The key is to do it for 15 years, not one game.’