Proteas look to rebuild road warrior reputation
On the way to becoming the number one side in Test cricket South Africa were unconquered on the road for nine years and fifteen series.
That all came crashing down when the Proteas were humiliated on turning tracks in India last year before suffering defeat at home to England.
South Africa have now slipped to fifth in the rankings a long way off the top of the table where India are sitting pretty ahead of a bumper home season.
Skipper Faf du Plessis wants to see his team restore their reputation as one of the best teams in the world away from home.
The stand in captain told a press conference: “The record we had away from home was remarkable.
“That was something we were incredibly proud of and then that changed. We went to India and we lost 4-0 [The Proteas lost the four match series in India 3-0] there. We also lost a lot of experienced guys. But I think it’s going to be tough for any team traveling to India in the next two or three years.
“I expect that India are going to keep the No. 1 ranking certainly for the next year with all the home tests they’ve got.
“But you can’t just rely on playing well in your home conditions. The team that’s No. 1 needs to play the best away from home. That’s something we need to start building up again.”
Australian conditions will feel a lot like home for the Proteas especially for the first Test in Perth where the tourists have never lost but they will not underestimate their hosts.
Du Plessis went on: “They will take comfort in the fact that they are playing in home conditions. When we went to India and we were a little bit scarred, we took comfort in coming home.
“It took time. Some of the guys were not in form. That may be the case (for Australia as well).”
With unofficial attack dog David Warner walking the path of righteousness, for now, Australia have been decidedly less verbal than previous Baggy Green outfits but the Proteas skipper doesn’t feel it will have that much effect on the outcome.
He said: “When I’ve played against Australia in the past they were probably the most verbal team in the world. That doesn’t mean it’s bad or good. All it means is that is how they play.
“Personalities determine how you play in that space. The kind of players Australia have now under Steven Smith, is similar to ours.
“It’s about respecting the opposition and letting the cricket do the talking. If it goes away from that, I don’t know how that’s going to have an effect in the series. We will just have to soak it up and work hard to get momentum on our side.”
In terms of experience both sides are a little thin in the top order with the veterans coming from the pace department for the Proteas.
The captain concluded: “If you look at the top six that came over four years ago, I think I was the only guy who hadn’t played 30-odd test matches.
“Test cricket is all about experience. That’s something we have in the bowling department with Dale, Vernon and Morne. Kagiso is a nice, young talent and our spinners are brand new to Test cricket. I think the Australian team are in a similar space at the moment.
“They haven’t had that similar amount of experience as the team had that dominated for so long. They’re also a few young guys, a few very experienced guys. The teams are very evenly matched.”
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