Quinton de Kock says the Proteas’ concerns over their safety in Pakistan have eased after seeing the level of security on offer.
It has been 14 years since the Proteas last toured Pakistan, who have been banned from hosting international cricket matches following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009.
International tours resumed in late 2019, but there is still a great deal of weariness from touring teams. De Kock admitted the Proteas came to Pakistan with a high degree of trepidation, but have subsequently had their concerns eased by the comprehensive security detail on offer.
‘When we were coming here, security was a concern, if not the biggest concern,’ de Kock said. ‘And then we landed here, we saw the security that was going on and everyone became calmer.
‘Over the days, it’s become less worrying. We have been able to focus more on cricket. On the plane, people spoke about, “what about this and what about that?” But we when we landed here we saw the amount of security – it’s something to be seen. They’ve taken so many measures, we can actually feel comfortable and focus on the cricket and not worry at all.’
He added the Proteas are cautious of the unknown challenges ahead in their upcoming Test series against Pakistan. Faf du Plessis is the only member in the current squad fairly familiar with local conditions, having played in the Pakistan Super League last year.
The challenge of the unknown could be key for the team to overcome in their preparation for the first Test next week, says De Kock.
‘Playing most teams in their home conditions is always tough. I think our biggest challenge is the conditions we could face, the unknowing of the things we are going to have to deal with,’ he said.
‘When you go to places like Australia, India, wherever you go, you kind of know what you’re going to get. The unknown of the things that are going to happen here plays a big part.’
Pakistan have loaded their squad with slow bowlers, and De Kock noted this. ‘Those selections say a lot about where they want to go and how they want to prepare these wickets,’ de Kock said.
Coaches Mark Boucher and Charl Langeveldt were part of the previous Proteas squad that traveled to Pakistan for a Test and ODI series back in 2007. And, De Kock says their preparation will be critical to help the team.
‘I am sure Bouch [Mark Boucher] and some of the other guys, who have played here, will keep us up to date with how the conditions work here.’
De Kock also expects a much-different Pakistan mentality after their heavy recent defeat in New Zealand.
The most notable boost for the hosts will be the return of captain Babar Azam, who will lead the Test outfit for the very first time.
‘Playing in New Zealand is difficult. The same [Pakistan] team that played there, for them to come play in their own conditions, will probably be a much-better fighting team, I can guarantee you that. With Babar coming back, we are going to be put up to a good challenge here.
‘This will be an opportunity to see that we are progressing. It is our first time also playing in Pakistan in 14 years and that is one step forward to where we are going to get to hopefully in the future. It is unfortunate with Covid-related things, but I’m sure things will just get better as time goes on,’ De Kock added.