Proteas aim to finish successful summer on a high

New Zealand

The Proteas are motivated to finish a successful season with a win in the third Test match against New Zealand starting at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Saturday.

The Proteas have been boosted by the fitness of wicket-keeper batsman, Quinton de Kock, who passed a late fitness test on Friday after sustaining an injury to his right index finger.

Proteas captain, Faf du Plessis, says victory will be another tick on a growing list of achievements this season, with series wins against New Zealand at home, Australia away and Sri Lanka at home in the bag. The Proteas have the T20 International and One-Day series trophies in the cabinet for this tour, and have set their aim on the treble against the hosts.   

“We’ve had a good series against them,” Du Plessis said in Hamilton on Friday. “The one-day series was a huge win for us, especially because of the track record they had in the format. For the Tests, it’s important that we come here and win the series.

“We started at seventh,” he said of the team’s rise up the ICC Test rankings. “That is why tomorrow is so important to me. Our goal was to get back to No. 2, No. 1 was going to be steep with India there. If we do that in this Test match it will round off an incredible year. We have ticked every box; we have won every series that we have played and this is another goal on our list.”  

Du Plessis emphasised the importance of respecting the opposition, despite the big loss of pace spearheads, Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Complacency and having ‘one foot on the plane’ are red flags the captain is aware of, especially at the end of a long summer of cricket.  

“It’s a huge blow,” he said. “I always make reference to our team, if we lose guys like them in our team it would be a huge loss. They are seamers who have the experience and the numbers behind them, you can’t just replace that in Test cricket. The two of them will leave a massive hole.

“Whoever comes in is someone who can do the job on the day and it will be important for us to play to our best. If we do that hopefully it will be easier but that is never a guarantee.”