Second Test preview: SA vs Sri Lanka
By Stuart Hess 33m ago
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JOHANNESBURG – It may be the way he answers questions, or the often quizzical look on his face, but Quinton de Kock doesn’t come across as an enthusiastic leader.
By his own acknowledgement, he’s a reluctant captain of the Proteas Test team. So it is understandable that during the first Test against Sri Lanka, it looked like a process of ‘captain by committee,’ for the home team. De Kock pointed out after the first Test that Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen had all provided assistance to him in the field.
“I think he requires a lot of guys to come and stand up for him,” said Elgar, who has led the Proteas in two Tests when Du Plessis was absent.
“He’s got a tough job standing behind the stumps, so can’t always run up and down to bowlers, so he’s going to rely on myself, Tems, Ras and Duppie to head the leadership group on his behalf, just to take a bit off his plate.”
For all his intuition, which many teammates and coaches have praised, Elgar said he was surprised by one part of De Kock’s character. “It’s early days. I’ve actually realised that he is quite an anxious guy in the change-room when he can’t influence the game on the field. That is good to see. It shows he has that heart and that passion, although it doesn’t seem like he has it.”
Given the short term nature of his appointment, the ‘captaincy by committee’ exercise will continue. It is part of a larger ploy to create a leadership unit within the squad that at some point in the future, Victor Mpitsang as selection convenor and head coach Mark Boucher, will hope can produce a permanent Test captain.
Also in the immediate future, there is the importance of registering a Test series win again for the Proteas. They last achieved that when beating Pakistan two years ago with Elgar the skipper in the last Test of that three-match series after Du Plessis had been suspended because of slow over rates.
As Bavuma stated earlier this week, Elgar agreed that the batting unit – which contains more senior players than the bowling group, needs to provide the impetus for the team, when they are at the crease. “It was important that Faf and I put our hands up and put in big performances ( in the first Test). There was confidence going into the series because we’ve all had good form domestically, so it was good to bring that to international level.”
“But this is a new match and we have to start again. The Wanderers is a place where, as a batter, if you apply yourself, you can score quite nicely. We must use the confidence we have from the first Test again in this Test and hopefully for the other series’ we have to come.”
Kagiso Rabada will again not be available for the match at his home ground as he continues to build his bowling loads, with the coaching staff eyeing the tour to Pakistan and the home series against Australia in March for him to be at full throttle.
So once again, the Proteas are likely to rely on the young attack, which responded very well at SuperSport Park after taking a pasting on the first day.
“You may have found that they were trying a little bit too hard and may have been nervous in the first innings,” said Elgar. “For me it was about the character they showed in the second innings, which is huge in this format. The language we’ve been using with them, is to keep it as simple and basic as possible.
“We had a very good training session on Friday and that was some of the best bowling I’ve seen in the nets in a long time,” he added.
Meanwhile the poor Sri Lankans keep counting the injuries in their side, with Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara and Dinesh Chandimal not available for the Wanderers, along with Dhananjaya de Silva, who tore his thigh muscle in Centurion and is out of action for a few weeks.
The Sri Lankan captain Dimuth Karunaratne confirmed on Saturday that leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga and veteran seamer Suranga Lakmal will have fitness tests to determine their readiness for the match.
Karunaratne is hoping to revive the spirit of 2019 to lift his side as they attempt to avoid a series defeat. “We have good young players that we feel will be competitive against South Africa. Even when we won here, we did it without the senior guys like Dinesh and Angelo (Mathews). Hopefully if we can push hard in each session, we will give ourselves a good chance.”
Play starts at 10am on Sunday.
*Raynard van Tonder was released from the Proteas squad after fracturing a finger on his left hand. No replacement is being called into the squad.
South Africa – Quinton de Kock (capt), Temba Bavuma, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Sarel Erwee, Wiaan Mulder, Kyle Verreynne, Beuran Hendricks, Lutho Sipamla
Sri Lanka – Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Santhush Gunathilaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Dilshan Madushanka
Umpires – (Standing) Marais Erasmus (SA), Adrian Holdstock (SA). (TV) Allahudien Palekar (SA)
Match Referee – Andy Pycroft (Zim)