Proteas eye lengthy innings at the top

2013-01-02 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South Africa are talking of a lengthy global domination of the Test arena ahead of what should be a relatively straightforward task against New Zealand, starting today.

Star SA batsman/wicketkeeper AB de Villiers insists there’s no complacency in the Proteas ranks ahead of this two-Test series with a weakened Black Caps outfit.

Following overseas series wins in England and Australia, De Villiers said there was a steely determination to protect their number one Test ranking and he believed that could extend it for a number of years if they planned carefully and played accordingly.

“We had a really good meeting with [Proteas coach] Gary [Kirsten] before this Newlands Test …

“We sat down at the hotel and examined everything that’s happened over the past year, and what’s coming up,” he said after a practice session at Newlands.

“The last time we had number one we rather threw it away as if it didn’t really matter to us.

“There’s a real sense of care in the team and spirit in this side; I’m really looking forward to 2013.

“If we can come through [this year], I believe we have a really good chance of dominating for four or five years …”

The challenge for the Proteas will be to handle a personnel transition through that period as some of their stars grow long in the tooth.

They have already signalled a willingness to take care of some of their older players and their real superstars like De Villiers who were awarded time off ahead of the Tests against New Zealand.

The Proteas fielded a new-look Twenty20 squad against the Black Caps and came away with a deserved 2-1 series victory.

De Villiers, who had complained of tiredness after the tour of Australia, said he was refreshed and looking forward to putting his pads on against New Zealand.

“It’s all about managing your energy levels and injuries and niggles, and ultimately keeping the passion and hunger for the game to really succeed and do well for your team,” he said.

“We play a lot of cricket throughout a year and we’re in a situation where we have to manage it really well.

“Most of our guys in the Test team are getting a bit older, especially a guy like Jacques [Kallis] and a few others who must really be looked after if we are to protect that number one ranking.

“All formats are important to us, so we must just manage it carefully between Cricket SA and the players as well.

“But I feel very energised and more hungry than ever, and hopefully the results will show.”

The Newlands wicket will be far more sporting with bounce and pace predicted.

De Villiers, who knows it well, said: “It looks like a typical Cape Town wicket.

“A bit of movement in the first two days, nice and flat day three, and then four and five hopefully a bit of turn for Robbie Peterson and some of our spinners.

“I’m not seeing anything weird or different about it … the seamers may enjoy a bit of grass on days one and two.”

South Africa have not lost at the famous ground since 2006.

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