Photo Credit: St John’s College
Proteas batting coach Justin Sammons has no doubt that South Africa can hit back and challenge Australia for series honours when the two teams lock horns in the second Test starting in Melbourne on Monday.
The tourists lost a low-scoring opener inside two days in Brisbane this past week, going 1-0 down in the three-match series.
It is not an unfamiliar position for the national team to be in after going behind in recent series’ against India and New Zealand, whilst also having to endure losing starts over the years against the Australians, before hitting back.
“Over the past year funnily enough we have played our best cricket when we have been behind,” Sammons told the media on Friday. “So I think the group’s taken confidence in what we’ve done in the past when it comes to coming from behind.
“We came from behind in the series against India last December when we were 1-0 down and won 2-1. We did it in New Zealand when we were 1-0 down and we came back in the second Test there to draw the series, so it’s not something we’re afraid of doing.
“The boys are up for the challenge and we know we’ve done it before and we’re confident we can do it again.”
South Africa’s top-order came under the spotlight after their poor showing in bowler-friendly conditions during that opening Test and also on the back of some below-par displays earlier in the year, but Sammons has backed the batters to come good as the series progresses.
“We’ve got to keep the belief and the players do have the belief,” Sammons explained. “We haven’t played to our potential in the last couple of Tests and we are also determined to get it right. The guys are out there doing their best behind the scenes and I’m confident that they are going to get it right.”
Regarding the Australian attack, the Proteas’ batting coach said: “Each bowler also has their strength. We do speak individually about the bowlers and what they’re trying to do to us.
“We know as a batting group that they are one of the best attacks in the world, if not the best with ours, and we have to be on top of our games, both defensively and in attack.
“When we get opportunities to score we’ve got to make sure that we take them and then defensively we’ve got to be in a strong position and commit.”
Sammons was also quizzed about the mental frame of the South African players, reiterating that they were not at all fazed by what happened in Brisbane.
“Not at all (we’re carrying any fears after the pitch we had in Brisbane),” he added. “Both teams play on it at the end of the day and we can’t use the conditions as an excuse.
“The bottom line is we didn’t play to our potential and if we did, we would have had a better chance of winning the game. So yeah, the surface is for both teams to play on and it’s who adapts best. They showed that in the first Test and we’ve got to make sure we correct that in this Test regardless of the conditions. “
The second Test begins on Boxing Day, December 26, at the MCG.
Proteas Test squad against Australia
Dean Elgar (captain, Momentum Multiply Titans), Temba Bavuma (DP World Lions), Gerald Coetzee (ITEC Knights), Theunis de Bruyn (Momentum Multiply Titans), Sarel Erwee (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Simon Harmer (Momentum Multiply Titans), Marco Jansen (Dafabet Warriors), Heinrich Klaasen (Momentum Multiply Titans), Keshav Maharaj (Hollywoodbets Dolphins), Lungi Ngidi (Momentum Multiply Titans), Anrich Nortje (Dafabet Warriors), Kagiso Rabada (DP World Lions), Rassie van der Dussen (DP World Lions), Kyle Verreynne (wicketkeeper, Six Gun Grill Western Province), Lizaad Williams (Momentum Multiply Titans), Khaya Zondo (Hollywoodbets Dolphins).
South Africa Test Tour to Australia Itinerary
Four-day Tour Match
09 – 12 December
Cricket Australia XI drew with South Africa – The Allan Border Field, Brisbane
17 – 21 December
Australia beat South Africa by six wickets – The Gabba, Brisbane
26 – 30 December
Australia vs South Africa – MCG, Melbourne
04 – 08 January
Australia vs South Africa – SCG, Sydney