The South African cricket team departs for a three-match test tour of Australia, looking to bury the ghost of last month’s T20 World Cup where they failed to make it out of the group stages of the tournament.
Captain Dean Elgar says priority for him is to assist his players to get over the psychological hangover from that outing to Australia and focus on the future and it starts with reinvigorating the culture of winning. The Proteas return to Australia only weeks after an embarrassing T20 World Cup where they lost to the Netherlands.
They need to push the reset button and get back to their dominant ways in the longest format of the game. The last time South Africa toured Australia for an end-of-year tour, which included a Boxing Day Test Match, was in 2008 with the hosts winning that three-match series 2-nil. The last test series in Australia in 2016 was won 2-1 by the Proteas. But the T20 World Cup could’ve mentally scarred some of the players playing all formats.
“It’s important for us over the next three weeks building up to the 17th that we, if there are any nagging things to come out and speak about it, make yourself vulnerable and speak about those insecurities. But the way I view it is that the guys, just by chatting to a few of them, the guys seem to be in a very good space with regards to what has happened in the past. So, we have got to go to work again, the game does not stop because of what has happened to you in the past, the game continues and if we are not there mentally it might catch up to us,” says Elgar.
The Proteas start their tour with a four-day match against a Cricket Australia eleven before the opening test match in Brisbane on the 17th of December. It will be followed by the hallowed grounds of the MCG in Melbourne on Boxing Day; a match Elgar and his charges are looking forward to.
“It’s important to acknowledge the moment and respect where we are but it is also important for us to focus on what we need to focus on and that’s our processes going into those games. It’s going to be a massive encounter, I am sure that crowds will be pretty loud and hostile as they would be in Australia, but as South Africans, we will never be shy of that, that will bring out the best characters that we have. It is going to be a special moment for everyone,” Elgar added.
Elgar is also confident in the capabilities of interim coach Malibongwe Maketa who will be leading the mission Down Under following Mark Boucher’s resignation. He says Maketa has vast knowledge of the structures.