A change in personnel has given South Africa fresh energy ahead of the two-match Test series against Bangladesh starting in Chittagong on Tuesday. Eight players have joined the squad following the disappointing One-Day International (ODI) series loss, as the focus shifts to the Proteas’ premier format. Coach Russell Domingo says: ‘We have to move on. It was a disappointing finish to our one-day series after starting well in the T20’s. We have eight new players here which is always great; there is new energy, new ideas and some experience with guys like Dale (Steyn) joining the side. We have a big Test match starting in four days’ time and we have to make sure that we are in top notch for that match.’
The first match marks the start of a busy 10-Test season for the number one-ranked Proteas, and with it the continuation of the rebuilding process following the retirements of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Alviro Petersen. The coach says he is still in search of compatible combinations in his line-up, which also has a number of vacancies waiting to be filled: ‘The hunger is important. It’s a great honour to play for your country and I suppose maybe when you have been doing it for a long period of time sometimes you get used to it and take it for granted. When you have new players coming in, the hunger, the desire and work ethic is always going to be top-notch because guys are trying to make an impression and forge careers in the Test side.’ Domingo says success against Bangladesh on their home ground will come down to playing consistent cricket and applying enough pressure to whittle away the eighth-ranked hosts.
While pace remains the Proteas’ strength, Domingo also stressed the big role the spinners will have to play in taking 20 wickets: ‘We are going to have to play really well. Guys like Dale (Steyn), Morne (Morkel) and Vernon (Philander) haven’t played cricket in a while so starting the series well is going to be important. Runs on the board is always crucial in the sub-continent because in that way you can apply pressure on the opposition. We know that it’s going to be hard work for the seamers; weather conditions, overhead conditions, the nature of the wickets, the humidity, it all makes fast bowling a tough job. Our spinners are going to have to play a big role for us. The control that they give us in the game is of paramount importance, we need to be able to strike at key periods, the new-ball obviously presents an opportunity but reverse-swing is going to be a big thing for us with our fast bowlers.’
The Proteas have two days off and will be using the time off for some analysis on the opposition and team bonding supporting the Springboks in their Rugby Championship match against Australia.