Too soon to panic for the Proteas

The Proteas have shifted their focus to the all-important must-win second Test match against Sri Lanka starting at the SSC ground in Colombo this Friday.

The squad has had two days of introspection and  reflection following the disappointing 278-run loss in the first Test in Galle, and will move on with more clarity on how to counter Sri Lanka’s spin threat.

Batting coach, Dale Benkenstein, says there is no panic in the camp, and only small tweaks to the mindset and game plans are needed for a turnaround.

“It is a combination of both,” he said of the mindset versus technique. “ Technically you have to have faced a spinning ball, there are few things technically that you have to adjust to. I would say 90 percent is about being tough mentally, being used to the ball spinning past the bat. We were weak on that side, when you have had a lot of Test cricket you are ready for the pressures and we were a bit low on that.

“All the players take responsibility, as well as the coaches,” he said. “ I don’t think we are far off, in the little time that I have had with the national team, we have had some poor days because we are off. It is not a big gap, it may seem like it with the result, but if we put all the things right we will be on the money in Colombo.”

Benkenstein, who toured Sri Lanka many times with the Proteas and South Africa ‘A’ teams during his playing career, admits no amount of practice can prepare a batsman for the real test against spin out in the middle. He hopes the players will learn from their experiences in the first match, especially those facing Messrs Herath, Perera and Sandakan for the first time in sub-continent conditions.

“These players have practised very hard,” he said in Galle on Monday. “ I don’t believe practices are going to make a huge amount of difference. Mentally there are a few things we have to put right, we have to remind ourselves that we are back in Test match mode, it is tough. We have two more days in Colombo to prepare for the next Test, it is not the end of the world.”

The squad travels to Colombo on Tuesday.