Johannesburg: Currently second in the ICC World Test Championship table, South Africa are hoping for some good results in the upcoming series to maintain their hopes of reaching the WTC final in London next June.
With a spot in the final at stake, South Africa have a lot to play for and the Proteas Test captain Dean Elgar is hoping that his team has learned from its experiences in England and expects them to do better during their tour to Australia starting later this month.
The squad leaves Johannesburg on Thursday for the three-Test trip that begins with a warm-up fixture against a Cricket Australia XI next Friday in Brisbane, before the first Test against the hosts at the Gabba on December 17.
It will be the first time the Proteas play red-ball cricket since their 2-1 series defeat to England on their own turf earlier this year — a tour in which an inexperienced batting line-up struggled in difficult conditions.
“We had a really rough series in England, the conditions were obviously very bowler-friendly and in favour of the bowlers,” Elgar told the media at DP World Wanderers Stadium before the team’s departure for Australia.
“So I think a lot of guys were maybe exposed to the really harsh conditions of Test cricket, which is sometimes not a bad thing even though the series didn’t go in our favour.
“The exposure for those younger batters was a massive positive for us going forward from a learning point of view. I mean you’ve got to learn from your failures and that’s the way I view it that we’ve learnt from the England series,” Elgar said.
The South African captain is also looking forward to the opportunity of playing on more batter-friendly wickets in Australia.
He continued: “Going to Australia it is a bit more of a fairer competition between bat and ball where the wickets they produce are generally very good cricket wickets. Well, I’m hoping so at least.
“In saying that, Test cricket’s always going to be tough. Australia comes with different external pressures off the field with certain things you have to be mindful of but with regards to playing your cricket in Australia you need to still implement your basics and I think you have to master your basics purely because the wickets produced are pretty good and the balance between bat and ball is pretty even,” he is quoted as saying by Cricket South Africa in a release on Thursday.
It is also the first series for South Africa since the departure of Mark Boucher as head coach with Malibongwe Maketa named as interim coach for the trip. Three years ago the Proteas experienced a similar scenario when they went to India and lost to the hosts.
Elgar was asked about that trip but responded by saying that this group of players was much better prepared compared to that one.
“I think the environment has changed drastically, in a good way,” he added. “I think we’ve tried to keep our core players with regards to our senior players that we’ve had so I think the consistency around that has always been a stable one.
“In those two or three years that have passed, it’s also good to have a team that is going through a small transition and we’ve been able to blood a few players along the way and give them their exposure into Test cricket and what Test cricket is about.
“So I think since 2019 we’ve evolved immensely in a good-natured way. We’ve played really good Test cricket. We’re still trying to push for the consistency, which is going to be important going into a big series Down Under,” Elgar concluded.