London - Proteas captain Faf du Plessis has cautioned against complacency heading into the third Test match against England starting at The Oval on Thursday.
The Proteas enter the match as favourites following their 340-run win in the second match in Nottingham, but will be wary of a fightback from the hosts, who have been under close scrutiny and criticism throughout the week.
An overriding characteristic of Du Plessis’ captaincy has been his simple and candid approach to the role, which has been clear in his message to the players in preparation for the series-defining match.
"It has been the normal focus of making sure players don't go into comfort zones," he said at The Oval on Wednesday.
"You can't rock up and expect a Test match victory. It has been about challenging the players about that this week. We have had two practices, we have done our work, and we have to make sure that tomorrow we don't fall into the trap of comfort zones."
Du Plessis says he isn't concerned about the lack of hundreds this series - the highest scores are 87 from Hashim Amla and 80 from Dean Elgar - citing conditions and the low-scoring matches as contributing factors.
The Oval conditions present an opportunity for the batsmen to correct this statistic, however, expected cloudy conditions could make it another testing surface for them.
"I’m not concerned," he admitted. "For me, it is a case of trusting and backing yourself. If you keep talking too much about it, it can derail you from keeping things simple. We know as a batting unit that we need to do it, so if someone gets an opportunity so score runs they need to be hungry, that is all I ask for. If you are hungry to make big plays for the team then the hundreds will come."
The captain says the character of the team he has been leading over the last 18 months has shown through the all-round contributions from all the players taking the field, a quality that sets the squad apart from South African teams of the past.
"I see that as our team strength," explained Du Plessis.
"Our focus is on every guy in the team playing a small role to get us over the line. We have never wanted to rely on big names. You get players who are consistent and put in big performances but if you look at our last year-and-a-half of Test cricket, there have been unsung heroes who have stepped up and made plays for the team and contributed."
The third Test at The Oval is scheduled to start at 12:00 SA time.