CAPE TOWN – The Standard Bank Proteas will be looking to raise the bar in their performances in 2017 after a strong finish to the year with a convincing 206-run win against Sri Lanka in the first Sunfoil Test match in Port Elizabeth.
The Proteas started the year with a poor 2-1 series loss to England, but capped it off with series wins against New Zealand and Australia, while heading into the new year with a 1-0 lead in the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
The Proteas have overcome changes in leadership and injuries to key players, but look a settled and confident unit after some introspection and reflection at a culture camp held halfway through the year.
There have been many standout performers; from the determination of Stephen Cook, who was the leading run-scorer with 575 runs and three centuries, to Kagiso Rabada, who continued to set the pace as one of the leading fast bowlers on the international circuit.
The Proteas finished the year as the fourth-ranked team in the ICC Test rankings, and their ascendancy back to the top will depend on the consistency of their performances going forward.
2017 will be the litmus test for the squad under the leadership of Faf du Plessis, with tours to New Zealand and England set to give an indication of how great the squad can be.
Captain, Faf du Plessis, has urged his players to be hungry for better performances and results despite the current run of form.
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“I feel that we are batting well as a unit,” Du Plessis said after the first Test. “It comes in individual greatness, and I feel that we can do a little bit more as a unit. Whether it’s two guys getting a hundred per innings or one guy getting two hundreds in a series. Lifting that bar a little bit higher and not being happy with getting to 300 and winning the game but actually pushing to 400 or 350.
“It’s about not settling,” he stressed. “It’s important for this team that even though we are playing really well, we must make sure that we look at areas, especially when we are winning, where we can improve.”
Day one of the second Sunfoil Test which gets underway at PCC Newlands on Monday has been sold out.
Tickets for the remaining four days can be purchased at www.ticketpros.co.za
– African News Agency