Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

Weight off Faf du Plessis's shoulders after South Africa coaching structure overhaul

Presence of legends like Smith, Boucher and Kallis has instantly raised the confidence of Proteas

South Africa batting coach Jacques Kallis with Faf du Plessis during a training session in Pretoria. Getty Images
South Africa batting coach Jacques Kallis with Faf du Plessis during a training session in Pretoria. Getty Images

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis is hoping the recent overhaul of his country's coaching structure will prove to be a timely boost for the four-Test series against England which begins on Thursday.

Former captain Graeme Smith was appointed director of cricket, Mark Boucher coach and Jacques Kallis as batting consultant weeks before the start of the series with the Proteas in desperate need of help having lost their last five Tests.

“The last six months has felt like a lot of weight on my shoulders because I could see so many things happening off the field that weren’t right,” Du Plessis said on Tuesday, also referring to CEO of Cricket South Africa Thabang Moroe getting suspended on allegations of misconduct.

“That’s never an excuse for the cricket that we are playing but for me now it has been a breath of fresh air to have these guys back.

“Now you sit and wonder, ‘why have these guys not been here for the last 10 years?’ It’s so important to have people like that in an international dressing room and if you look around in international cricket, [other] teams have got that.

“I use the Australian cricket team as an example. When we played against them, they had [Justin] Langer, [Ricky] Ponting, [Steve] Waugh. Then you sit in our dressing room and go, ‘we need that, we want that’.

Even though they have a wealth of experience in the coaching department, Du Plessis has realistic expectations.

“We are at an infant stage as a Test team and the plan is to get back to number one but that will take some time.

“We do need to mature, we’ve got a year and a half of the World Test Championship. The plan is get out there and play a little bit better every time we go out.”

South Africa lost a Test series at home to Sri Lanka earlier in the year before being thoroughly outplayed in India, losing two matches by an innings.

“We definitely need to start well, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve been training very well and all the things that have been happening off the field have been good," Du Plessis added.

“But we need to make sure we put our peg in the ground for this series and almost get the belief back through performances.”

The Proteas will be without pacer Lungi Ngidi, out with a hamstring tear. They have included six uncapped players in the squad. Middle-order batsman Rassie van der Dussen is most likely to debut. The South African bowling attack is expected to comprise of quicks Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Anrich Nortje and left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj.

Philander will be particularly keen to make his mark after announcing that he will retire from international cricket after the four-match series. "I feel that it is an appropriate time to conclude what has been an amazing journey. My entire focus and energy at this time is is to help the Proteas beat England," Philander said.

Updated: December 24, 2019 06:36 PM

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