With South Africa men set for a crucial three-Test series against Australia next week, Dean Elgar’s squad is hoping to make the most of the four-day warm-up fixture and give a chance to every bowler and batter in the game starting on Friday.
South Africa will go into the series currently ranked second on the ICC World Test Championship table and they will be hoping for some good results to maintain their hopes of reaching the Test final in London next June. It will be the first time the Proteas play red-ball cricket since their 2-1 series defeat during a tour of England earlier this year.
Considering these factors, and also taking into account that the Proteas are playing under a new coach and with some new players, the series is quite important for them.
Interim head coach Malibongwe Maketa says the Proteas have been acclimatising well to conditions in Brisbane, where they will play the first tour match, following their arrival in the Australian city over the weekend.
South Africa will play three Test matches against the hosts starting on December 17, with the tour kicking off with a four-day warm-up fixture versus a Cricket Australia XI starting on Friday.
“It won’t be a first-class game so it will work in our favour that we can hopefully give all our batters a chance to bat and our bowlers we can monitor them because we’ve gone hard for the first three days that we’ve been here,” Maketa told the media on Tuesday.
“It is important for us. Luckily some of our guys are coming off some big performances back home but getting here and being exposed to the wickets means this game is very crucial for each and every one of us from that point of view,” he was quoted as saying in a release by Cricket South Africa.
Maketa also spoke about how he and captain Elgar have been working together since his appointment to the role on a short-term contract for the tour.
“It is quite exciting to get the opportunity to work with Dean,” he explained. “I have worked with him, obviously not in the same capacity, and our relationship is strong. And it’s really based on hard work so we’re quite similar in a sense in terms of what we’re looking for in terms of the team and the performance itself.
“Like I said when I joined the team, I’m here to support Dean in every way. So it has been a nice start to our journey so far,” the coach said.
Maketa is also widely seen as a calm-natured coach and he was asked about this approach to the way he coaches.
“I’d like to think that (I am that type of a coach),” was his response to the question. “For me, the most important thing is knowing that the only way I can impact the game is through preparation.
“I know the guys are not liking me in the sense that I’ve put them through some really tough sessions. Once the game starts, I hand over and the biggest thing then is how we support the players as a coaching staff and consistently asking ourselves questions on how we can turn the game around or how can we stay ahead in the game, giving that information to the players and Dean and making sure we support them.”
South Africa are playing in a country where they have a strong history of challenging the hosts in the five-day game and Maketa says he expects things to be no different this time.
“History tells us there is drama when these two teams meet,” he adds. “But for us mentally it’s all about cricket and what is required for us to come here and win. That’s been the driving force for us, whatever comes up we’ve got enough personnel and support for the team to make sure we deal with whatever we might encounter.”