Proteas pos­i­tive be­fore Test

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS in

THERE WILL be a much more pos­i­tive at­mos­phere in the Proteas camp to­day as they start fi­nal prepa­ra­tions, ahead of Thurs­day’s first Test at Lord’s.

It’s been a dif­fi­cult tour, on and off the field for play­ers and man­age­ment, but they ap­pear to have had a good few days in Worces­ter where they played a strong Eng­land Lions team and for the most part got what they wanted out of that three-day game.

There is still no word on whether Faf du Plessis will join the team in time for Thurs­day opener, but the Test side has shown in the last year that it is a re­silient group and they’ll rally around Dean El­gar should he lead them at Lord’s.

Al­though El­gar didn’t get many runs against the Lions, he’ll have been pleased that most of the bats­men spent time at the crease in the warm-up match that ended at New Road on Satur­day. Time in the mid­dle was the pri­or­ity, but runs on the board for Heino Kuhn, who’s set to make his Test de­but at Lord’s, Hashim Amla, Quin­ton de Kock and Temba Bavuma, would have lifted their con­fi­dence.

“What I’ve found is that ball swings for a lot longer even when it gets older,” Bavuma, who scored 85 not out, said of English con­di­tions. “You have to be cer­tain about what you’re try­ing to do. Wick­ets are a touch slower than what we’re used to back home.”

While El­gar would have en­joyed a longer stay than just the 10 min­utes he had at the crease, his form in re­cent weeks for Som­er­set sug­gests his fi­nal fet­tle ahead of the four-match Test se­ries. Of con­cern among the bats­men is JP Du­miny, who spent just 35 min­utes at the crease against the Lions and scored 25, while The­u­nis de Bruyn, who is set to oc­cupy a spot in the mid­dle or­der at Lord’s if Du Plessis is ab­sent, scored nought. He also strug­gled for SA ‘A’ on their re­cent tour and the se­lec­tors may think about in­clud­ing an ad­di­tional all­rounder – most likely Chris Mor­ris – for the first Test.

In mulling over the make up of the start­ing team, the se­lec­tors will also be keep­ing a close eye on Ver­non Phi­lan­der, He played no part in the match against the Lions af­ter suf­fer­ing an an­kle in­jury while play­ing for Sur­rey two weeks ago but has been passed fit to play this week and en­sur­ing he doesn’t rein­jure him­self in the lead up to the first Test, will be the se­lec­tors pri­mary con­cern.

The rest of the bowlers got through a good amount of work against the Lions al­though bowl­ing coach Charl Langeveldt was un­happy about the 13 no-balls – nine by Kag­iso Rabada – that were served up.

“Our guys bowled well, be­sides the no-balls, we got two wick­ets off no-balls, which is a con­cern. It is some­thing that we will need to cor­rect go­ing for­ward,” said Langeveldt. “It has been a prob­lem in the past but KG (Rabada) has had a few weeks off so he will hit his straps (to­day) and will be ready for Thurs­day. As a bowl­ing unit I think we went well.”

Rabada, Morne Morkel and Mor­ris bowled a com­bined 47 overs against the Lions, with left-arm spin­ner Ke­shav Ma­haraj get­ting through 18 overs. Iron­i­cally, given his bat­ting prob­lems De Bruyn, showed he might be an op­tion with the ball pick­ing up two wick­ets.

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