Proteas to focus squarely on Sri Lankan tour

2011-12-08 00:00

AFTER a shortened Australian tour Proteas assistant coach Russell Domingo told yesterday that the team will not be approaching the Sri Lankan tour with an eye on their 2012 tour of England.

“Sri Lanka are a good team with some quality players.

“They have not had the best of times of late, losing a Test series to Australia and Pakistan, and will be looking for some redemption in South Africa,” said Domingo.

“We need to approach each series with respect. England is a long way away and we still need to tour New Zealand before we think of turning our focus on England.”

Domingo said systems are being put in place to serve the side beyond the England tour.

“We have developed a medium-term plan which will serve us for the immediate future,” he said.

“We have sat down with batsmen and addressed areas of concern as well as striving to achieve personal goals.

“The new-look bowling attack is starting to find its feet and it will only be a matter of time before they complement each other on the field.”

Domingo explained that the side is wary of the element of unpredictability that the Sri Lankan side bring into the tour.

Sri Lanka last toured South Africa in 2002/03 and Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are the only surviving squad members from that tour. Dilhara Fernando and Tillakaratne Dilshan have previously played against South Africa.

“Only four members of that touring squad have Test experience against South Africa, but we have played against the individual players from that squad in the Indian Premier League and have footage of the recent Australian tour to Sri Lanka, so we are confident that we are prepared for the tour,” said Domingo.

“The schedule for this tour is also vastly improved. It will give us an opportunity to assess the guys and their performance over a more compact schedule.

“It also gives Gary Kirsten, Allan Donald and myself an opportunity to get to know each other better.”

On the fitness front, Domingo said that he has had word that all of the members of the squad are fully fit and he insisted that Titans pace bowler Marchant de Lange was not brought into the squad as cover for Dale Steyn, who played the last Australian Test with a back strain.

“De Lange has been brought into the team because of his good performances with the Titans and with South Africa A. He brings an element of raw pace and with his height he could trouble batsmen,” Domingo said.

“He might not play a game in the Sri Lankan tour, but it is important to get him involved in the system early. He will learn a lot from Kirsten, Donald and Steyn.”

Reflecting on the Australian tour, Domingo said that the side have moved on from the loss at the Wanderers, which saw Australia draw the series, and is focusing on the positives.

“Smith is back in form, De Villiers is fully fit and we have found a quality pace and spin bowler.”

A major factor on that tour was the reliance on the umpire decision review system (DRS). In the first Test against Australia at Newlands, of the 23 wickets to fall on the second day, four were given out with the assistance of DRS. Nine decisions were reviewed in total; six that were initially called not out.

Domingo said this points to the fact that technology will play a greater role in Tests and that teams need to come to terms with this.

“The Proteas are comfortable with the technology, but we are not 100% comfortable. There are still issues among the senior players where they feel that the ball tracking system is wrong and that the technology showed the ball deviating more than it did,” he said.

• jonathan.faurie@witness.co.za

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