Australia v South Africa Tests
Resting players was a mistake: Du Plessis
South Africa skipper says lead-in series against Australia's one-day team gave his side huge confidence boost
Sam Ferris at Blundstone Arena, Hobart
15 November 2016, 02:55 PM AEST
Victorious Proteas captain Faf du Plessis says his side gained a huge amount of confidence from clean-sweeping Australia and that it was a “mistake” to send an under-strength ODI squad to South Africa.
The Proteas won the five-match series in September-October without dropping a game against an Australia outfit devoid of their two best fast bowlers in Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
The pair was set to be rested after a gruelling tour of Sri Lanka in the months prior, but that was before Starc suffered a severe laceration to his left leg which would have ruled him out of the tour regardless.
Speaking to the press after wrapping up the Commonwealth Bank Test series 2-0 with a match in hand, du Plessis was frank when asked if he thought Australia’s selectors made a mistake by opting to rest their best bowlers for the ODI tour.
“I definitely think so,” said du Plessis. “We came across here with a lot of confidence, we did expect a really tough challenge because it’s a different team and a full-strength team with two key players in Starc and Hazlewood (returning).
“Certainly, not facing them is better than facing them.
“The confidence from coming over five-nil has helped us a lot and I think it will be the same case going into that last Test match.
“We’re a confidence team and making sure we do the basics well and if we do that we’ll keep pressure on the Australian team.”
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While Australia were without their premier pacemen and World Cup final hero James Faulkner (injury) in that ODI series, the visitors boasted a full-strength batting order but were unable to consistently combat the hosts’ bowling attack in batter-friendly conditions.
Senior players David Warner (two centuries) and Steve Smith (one century) were the only batsmen to post three-figures for the tourists, and became the prime targets for the Proteas in the Test series, with injured spearhead Dale Steyn even referring to the pair as the ‘head of the snake’ in the build-up to the Perth Test.
After the first day-and-a-half in that first Test, South Africa completely dominated Australia and it started with the wicket of Warner for 97.
From that moment Australia lost 10-86, their self-belief and in six days of Test cricket, the series.
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“We are a team that’s confident at the moment, so we use that and we walk and talk that on the field, our body language is extremely good,” du Plessis said.
“But when you’re a team that’s under the pump and under pressure and not playing as well as you would’ve liked, that (confidence) fades away and it’s hard to fake it.
“Even though at times they had little bits of it (momentum) we just didn’t give them the opportunity to do it for long periods of time.
“Guys like David Warner and Steve Smith, if you can put a lot of pressure on them you know that the younger and the more inexperienced players in the team won’t have the same punch as they would have if they back up on their (Warner and Smith’s) performances.
“We’ve just made sure those guys have been relatively quiet in the series.
“Even guys like Starc, who is a fantastic bowler.
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“He did amazing things, he bowled really well in that one spell (on day one), but that’s when if you’re on top you get a five-fer, you clean the tail up and you bowl a team out.
“We were really good at making sure we stopped that.”
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