Proteas coach Ottis Gibson says that his side’s current batters are the best ones to do the job and that the team have put the first Test defeat behind them. They are now focused on the must-win second Test against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park.
Gibson admitted that the first Test loss came as a huge shock, considering the position South Africa were in at the start of the fourth day. He added that the Proteas side had no thoughts about gaining revenge from the Kingsmead defeat, but rather that they would be looking at ‘playing a little bit better perhaps’.
‘You have to give (Sri Lanka) credit … for the way they played,’ added Gibson. ‘Perera rode his luck early on, but then he settled down and he played really well. We threw everything at him … and that’s the nature of sport. Sometimes when somebody has a day like that and he then makes a personal best score to win a Test match … history is littered with performances like that, but when it happens against your team it’s tough to take, but you have to give him credit for the way he played as well.’
Gibson confirmed that Wiaan Mulder is looking likely to make his Test debut as a like-for-like replacement for the injured Vernon Philander as the Proteas look to square the series after Sri Lanka took a 1-0 series lead with their thrilling one-wicket win at Kingsmead.
The Proteas were criticised for being light on runs after scoring just 235 and 259 in their two innings at Kingsmead, with skipper Faf du Plessis admitting as much after the match.
‘I think we were 50 runs short in the first innings and another 30-50 in the second,’ Du Plessis said after the match, but Gibson has faith in the batsmen in the current squad.
‘We feel like the batters we’ve got here are the best ones to do the job at the moment,’ said Gibson. ‘The one thing that we have spoken a lot about after the game obviously is batting better in our first innings, and putting a better score on the board – that’s one area that we know we need to improve on in this game if we’re going to win this Test match.’
After the Test series, South Africa and Sri Lanka will contest five ODIs and three T20Is.
Proteas Test squad: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Zubayr Hamza, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn.
Footage: Cricket South Africa