Proteas skipper Quinton de Kock says the team is eager to deliver a much better performance against Sri Lanka than last year and hopes the team’s Test form can turn a corner in the two encounters.
The Proteas, under the captaincy of Faf du Plessis, suffered a 2-0 series defeat in South Africa against the Sri Lankans at the start of 2019, which started a run of three consecutive Test series defeats for the men in green and gold.
After a turbulent 18 months for the team, both on and off the field, De Kock and his charges appear determined to build some positive momentum when the first Test gets under way in Centurion on Saturday.
‘We want to play clever Test cricket, we want to be streetwise in the way we go about things. Aggressively we want to throw first punches, I think in the past we have let other teams throw first punches instead us, that is where we want to get better at,’ De Kock told reporters on Monday.
‘Just the way we want to play has to be more clever, aggressive and streetwise. That is the way this team has to go forward so we are pushing for that type of cricket at the moment.’
The Proteas haven’t competed in red-ball cricket since the final Test against England at the beginning of this year with various tours since cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
De Kock and his men, though, want to hit the ground running after losing the recent T20 series against England before the subsequent ODI series against Eoin Morgan’s men was cancelled due to numerous bio-bubble issues in Cape Town.
‘We are all very eager to get back onto the Test field, it’s been a while and it’s also nice to have a change in format. This year has been a lot of T20 cricket so it will be nice to change things up. The guys are hungry – yesterday (Sunday) we had our first practise session and the guys got into the swing of things.
‘We don’t have a lot of first-team members who were part of that losing battle against Sri Lanka last year so obviously guys like me, Faf [du Plessis] and a few other guys do still have that memory and we want to rectify that,’ he added.
De Kock will also captain the Proteas in the longer format for the first time ever after it was first announced that he won’t be viewed as as a possible replacement for Faf du Plessis, who retired as captain of the team in February.
The left-hander’s workload will now be under the spotlight where he will carry the responsibility of keeping and captaining at the same time.
‘I am going to keep wicket. I actually wasn’t going to in the ODIs against England. We have got to give someone else a chance but we are now looking at ways to get things off my shoulders but obviously in Test cricket I think I need to be there as keeper,’ said De Kock.