7 February 2014
Proteas coach Russell Domingo declared himself satisfied on Thursday after his charges drew a three-day game against a Rest of South Africa XI in preparation for the first test against Australia, which starts on Wednesday, 12 February.
Of huge significance for the South African national team was the appearance of AB de Villiers, who had been out of action after undergoing surgery on a hand. Batting in his side’s second innings, De Villiers showed he had lost none of his excellent form by contributing an unbeaten 40 off 65 deliveries, with five fours and one six.
Equally significant was Dale Steyn taking the new ball. He had been sidelined by a fractured rib, which he suffered in South Africa’s series clinching 10-wicket win over India in Durban in December.
Bowling coach Allan Donald made it clear that he is expecting Steyn to be operating at full steam when the test series begins at SuperSport Park in Centurion in an interview with ESPN Cricinfo’s Firdose Moonda.
“We can’t afford for him to ease into it,” Donald said. “Graeme [Smith] wants him to be full tilt right from the start.”
Steyn did not operate at full speed during the warm-up fixture, but, as Donald noted, he bowled quicker as the day progressed.
Faf du Plessis provided a highlight by scoring an undefeated century while batting in the number four position, which for so long was home to the great Jacques Kallis.
“We are happy with some of the batting obviously,” coach Domingo said in a statement. “Faf got a hundred, the captain batted for an-hour-and-a-half and the lower order, which is going to be important against Australia, all spent some valuable time out in the middle.
“The bowlers bowled quick and decent spells, so I’m very happy with what we have achieved over the last few days.”
There will be some concern about the fitness of JP Duminy, who retired injured after scoring 10 runs in the Proteas’ second innings. He has been diagnosed with tendonitis in his left wrist, but is expected to resume training on Sunday after undergoing treatment.
It won’t be full-out cricket for the squad before the first test. They will be taking a two-day break in the Karongwe Nature Reserve near Hoedspruit in Mpumalanga where they will be taken on a Rhino Adventure by SAB and “Rhino in safe hands” Ambassador Mark Boucher.
They will resume training on Sunday at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
SA vs AUSTRALIA FIXTURES
- 5-8 Feb: 1st test – SuperSport Park, Centurion
- 12-16 Feb: 2nd test – St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
- 20-24 Feb: 3rd test – Newlands, Cape Town
- 9 Mar: 1st T20 – St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
- 12 Mar: 2nd T20 – Kingsmead, Durban
- Mar 14: 3rd T20 – SuperSport Park, Centurion