Stand-in Proteas captain Faf du Plessis says the team have rekindled their passion after the disappointment of the World Cup.
And Dale Steyn, whose five-wicket haul in the second innings showed that he is back to his best, said that after the World Cup in 2015, which was marred by allegations of political interference in team selection, the team ‘just stopped’.
‘We didn’t know what we wanted to achieve, what we were playing for. We didn’t know why we wanted to win games. We needed something to happen,’ he said.
Du Plessis said that some long hard analysis was required as the Proteas slipped down the rankings, and that the team realised that unless they changed their attitudes, they would not be able to stop the slide.
‘We had some really good discussions between ourselves. The guys took it on board. They were really mature,’ Du Plessis said.
‘We’ve found our passion again and why we want to win games,’ he added. ‘The team space is good and that reflects directly on our performances.’
The especially pleasing aspect of the win over New Zealand, was that it was done in the absence of two of their main players in the Proteas camp, AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel.
‘We’ve got the capabilities of transforming our team into a good team again,’ Du Plessis said. ‘We don’t rely completely on those guys – AB and Morne.’
But on the other hand, they did have Steyn and Philander.
‘It would be tough for us to be at the top without the two of them,’ he said. ‘It’s amazing to throw them the ball and know the run rate’s going to be under three and they are going to be taking wickets as well. To control the game of Test cricket, you need bowlers like them.’
It was, said, Du Plessis, almost ‘the perfect Test’.
‘If I could write a script to write it the way I would like, that’s the way I would have scripted it,’ he said.
And it will get better when De Villiers and Morkel are back in action. ‘We would need them to be No 1. If they are not there, it’s going to be a challenge.’
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