It’s an interesting time for South African cricket – the limited overs side recently created history by securing their first ever series win in Sri Lanka. They will look to continue the good streak as they set out on Wednesday to play in whites for the first time since the retirement of long-time captain Graeme Smith earlier this year.
The South African test side has a lot to play for. They lost their last test series at home to Australia and subsequently lost their no.1 spot – a position they held on to for almost a couple of years. A series win here will see them reclaim the summit again.
It’s no mean feat though. South Africa have not won a test series against Sri Lanka in 21 years. The last time these two teams met on Sri Lankan soil was in 2006, when South Africa were hammered in a 2-0 whitewash. Since then, Sri Lanka have only lost one series at home.
Add to that the fact that South Africa are now entering a new era under the captaincy of Hashim Amla, and you have a relative new-look side that is in need of figuring out its inner dynamics in conditions they have historically not enjoyed.
To fill in the gap left by Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, who retired late last year, South Africa have roped in a couple of rookies, one of which is the left-hander Stiaan Van Zyl who had a fantastic first-class season as the top-run scorer last year.
Dane Piedt is the other rookie who rightfully earned a call to the squad after consistent match-winning performances as the leading spinner for his franchise team.
He may have an important role to play alongside leggie Imran Tahir on the turning decks of Sri Lanka.
Only three South Africans from that infamous tour in 2006.- AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn – are in the current test squad. Their experience will count for all as the side will look to them for guidance through the series.
Despite having minimal experience in captaincy, Amla is eager to lead the side, and knows all the challenges at hand. He is aware of the resources he has at his disposal.
He needs to handle them carefully in the tricky conditions present if he wants to set a strong first impression.
South Africa Test Squad
Hashim Amla (capt), Alviro Petersen, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Stiaan van Zyl, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Kyle Abbott, Quinton de Kock, Dane Piedt.