New captain, new keeper, full of confidence

2014-07-16 00:00

TODAY is a day of changes for the Proteas as they head into the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle — beginning a new life after Graeme Smith’s reign.

Hashim Amla leads the side in what he calls “an honour and a privilege”, while AB de Villiers hands the keeping duties to Quinton de Kock who starts his second Test.

“AB has struggled with a hamstring niggle since the last ODI and has not been keeping at practice,” said Amla. “However, he is in the side, he will play, he just won’t keep. That brings De Kock into the side.”

Riding high on confidence after the historic 2-1 One-Day series win, the first for the Proteas in Sri Lanka, Amla was ready to take the fight to the hosts in the two-Test series.

“Most of the players from the ODI series are part of the Test squad, with only three new faces as such coming in,” he said.

“Yes, Test cricket is a different level and mindset, but success in any format of the game does rub off and we are confident going into today’s match.”

Amla will bat at four, a spot he wants to make his own in the long run. He also acknowledged that bringing De Kock into the side changed the dynamics slightly.

“We are looking at a settled batting order for now and later. It’s something we are working on and something I am keen to establish for the future where players know where they slot in and what is expected of them.”

It won’t be an easy captaincy debut for Amla, especially on the wickets of the sub-continent.

“Obviously we have analysed the ­opposition and as captain, I am more involved in this regard,” he said.

“With only three days between the last ODI and the start of this Test, the players have remained focused and have easily clicked into gear, making the change from ODI to Test format.”

As for the Galle wicket, Amla expected it to be the same as any sub-continent track, despite him never playing at Galle.

“It looks a good track, a little flat, maybe sticky. The ODI wickets were good to bat on initially but they got slower as the game progressed,” he said.

“Winning the toss is important in such conditions and more often than not, it’s no surprise to bat first. We know the wicket will get more difficult through the day and take more turn but that’s what cricket is about in these parts.”

With this in mind, Amla said the starting line-up today would include one specialist spinner, with JP Duminy as back-up.

“JP has bowled well on tour and played a significant part in the ODI success. We also have Dean Elgar as a bowling option but we are hoping we don’t have to use him, our spinners doing the job,” he said.

• The Test is telecast on SuperSport 2 from 6 am.

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