Proteas batting coach Justin Sammons has no doubt that South Africa can hit back and challenge Australia for series honours when the two teams lock horns in the Boxing Day Test, starting here on Monday.
The tourists lost a low-scoring opener inside two days at The Gabba in Brisbane last week, going 1-0 down in the three-match series. It is not an unfamiliar position for South Africa to be in after going behind in recent series’ against India and New Zealand, whilst also having to endure losing starts over the years against the Australians, before hitting back.
“Over the past year funnily enough we have played our best cricket when we have been behind. So I think the group’s taken confidence in what we’ve done in the past when it comes to coming from behind. We came from behind in the series against India last December when we were 1-0 down and won 2-1.”
We did it in New Zealand when we were 1-0 down and we came back in the second Test there to draw the series, so it’s not something we’re afraid of doing. The boys are up for the challenge and we know we’ve done it before and we’re confident we can do it again,” said Sammons to reporters on Friday.
South Africa’s top-order came under the spotlight after their poor showing in bowler-friendly conditions during that opening Test in Brisbane, which also came on the back of some below-par displays earlier in the year. But Sammons has backed the batters to come good as the series progresses.
“We’ve got to keep the belief and the players do have the belief. We haven’t played to our potential in the last couple of Tests and we are also determined to get it right. The guys are out there doing their best behind the scenes and I’m confident that they are going to get it right,” he said.
Each bowler (in Australian team) also has their strength. We do speak individually about the bowlers and what they’re trying to do to us. We know as a batting group that they are one of the best attacks in the world, if not the best with ours, and we have to be on top of our games, both defensively and in attack. When we get opportunities to score we’ve got to make sure that we take them and then defensively we’ve got to be in a strong position and commit,” he added.
Sammons was also quizzed about the mental frame of the South African players, reiterating that they were not at all fazed by what happened in Brisbane.
“Not at all (we’re carrying any fears after the pitch we had in Brisbane). Both teams play on it at the end of the day and we can’t use the conditions as an excuse.”
The bottom line is we didn’t play to our potential and if we did, we would have had a better chance of winning the game. So, the surface is for both teams to play on and it’s who adapts best. They showed that in the first Test and we’ve got to make sure we correct that in this Test regardless of the conditions,” he concluded.