All it takes is one good session to start the resurgence of the Proteas, says captain Hashim Amla.
In his final press briefing before the start of the first Test against England, staring on Saturday, Amla says that the players have put the difficulties and disappointment of the India series behind them and are looking forward to ‘a good contest on a good cricket wicket’.
‘It’s a fair contest,’ he said in an oblique reference to the poor batting surface at Nagpur, which saw the Proteas lose their nine-year away winning streak. ‘The best team should win’.
Amla noted that England, too, were coming off a series loss in the UAE, but he believed it would not take much to get back into winning ways. ‘Both teams are looking for a good start to get their resurgence going,’ he said.
Were England now on the front foot after the good win against the A team? ‘No I don’t take too much from that result. It’s completely different in Test cricket, you can’t replicate that. Both teams are evenly matched.’
He did not believe that South Africa were under undue pressure. ‘In international cricket, there is always someone “under pressure”,’ he said. ‘It’s the nature of Test cricket. It’s not as if we say, “oh, we are suddenly under pressure”. Every game has consequences, but it just takes one good day, putting runs on the board or taking wickets, that’s all it takes.
‘The spirit is good, the guys are smiling and are very happy to be back home. The guys realise that things like this happen [the loss to India]. It hasn’t happened to us for a while, but it happens. It just needs us to start well, get runs on the board, or take wickets, for it all to change.’
Amla hinted that he would like a spinner in the team, saying it gave the team ‘balance’, especially as over the past couple of years the Kingsmead surface started turning in the fourth innings.
‘It’s a decision we will make in a couple of days,’ he said.
But whatever happens, the series ‘will be close and hard’.