South Africa batter Khaya Zondo admits that conditions may not have favoured batting in the opening Test defeat to Australia, but he believes the Proteas can and will improve in the next match of the three-game series in Melbourne.
South Africa had their final training session in Brisbane on Wednesday, where they suffered a six-wicket defeat to the hosts inside two days at The Gabba. They leave for Melbourne on Thursday with an aim to put up a much better performance at the Boxing Day Test in the MCG, starting from December 26, where they will aim to square the series.
“We just need to apply ourselves, get really focused, make sure that we’re present at the crease all the time. Look, a lot of guys are new to Test cricket, so there’s obviously new tricks, it’s a different intensity, guys are still trying to get used to that as well, so we just really need to focus on the ball and have all your soul and might there and give it your best shot.”
“That’s what I would give to guys. Everyone has their own challenges and they’ve got to find a way to work through it,” he said to reporters.
Zondo played in only his third Test at Brisbane, and most like his team-mates, is inexperienced at the highest level. With so many retirements in the past few years, South Africa was always expected to go through a transition phase and the tough schedule has not helped, according to him.
“I did think that this year for anyone who was going to be in the national team it was going to be a tough year of international cricket. I mean the first series was in New Zealand, then it was Bangladesh, then it was going to England and now it’s Australia, so you’ve got some tough competition and it’s a good test to see if you can handle Test cricket as a player, and that’s for everyone whether you’re a batsman or a bowler.”
“I do think most of the pitches the guys have got on have been quite tough. As a batsman in England it’s tough. It was the first time for most guys in England with the national team so it was not going to be an easy task. Similarly this side with the first pitch we got. So I would just say it’s a test for everyone, especially the batters because the pitches haven’t really been that friendly to them.”
Zondo, 32, has more than 6000 first-class runs to his name and has been particularly impressive in recent domestic seasons. He was also amongst the few players to walk away with some credit from that first Test where he top-scored in the second innings.
Asked on step-up from domestic to international cricket, he explained, “I would say the intensity is different and with execution of the skills there’s quite a difference. At this level they don’t give you much to score as a batsman. You also just can’t sit on one end and think that you’ll survive because the bowlers will find a way to work you out.”
“You’ve also got quality bowlers coming at you all the time whereas at franchise level you don’t have that. There’s also quality spinners and the guys in general are just ruthless in terms of how they execute their skills and their basics are sharp. You have to also be extremely watchful with how you bat as well in terms of the lines and defending your stumps.”