THE Proteas cricket team are quietly confident of their chances ahead of the second five-day clash of the Sunfoil test series against West Indies taking place at St George’s Park from Friday.
Both teams were welcomed by the Qhama Africa Marimba Band and a handful of diehard Proteas fans as they landed at the Port Elizabeth Airport yesterday.
Proteas bowling coach Allan Donald said the players were excited and confident, having thumped the Windies in the first test at Centurion Park in Pretoria to claim the first of the three-leg series by an innings and 220 runs.
“Port Elizabeth has always been good to us and it is a great ground with a great atmosphere,” Donald said.
“It is always a pleasure to be here. The guys are feeling confident they can take the victory in the second leg.
“Looking at our first innings in Centurion, you could see we were just finding our footing.
“In the second innings [bowling to the West Indies], it all came together.
“PE is a slower pitch than Centurion with much less bounce so the guys will have to graft harder as we don’t expect the Windies to just roll over.”
Proteas batsman Faf du Plessis said despite the slower wicket, the St George’s ground always provided an entertaining game of cricket.
“PE has been good to us in the past. We are expecting a good game of cricket, hopefully being watched by a good crowd.
“The guys are quitely confident going into the second leg.
“If we play our brand of cricket, focus on getting our basics right, we are confident we will do well,” Du Plessis said.
West Indies cricket coach Stuart Williams said: “The team learnt from their mistakes in the first test and will not take the result lying down.
“Yes, [Dale] Steyn had a good spell at Centurion, but I assure you it has not intimidated the players at all.
“Look at the first innings – he didn’t take any wickets. He is an excellent bowler, but he is not the team,” he said.
“Our boys won’t give up that easily, and they know it is time to get up and fight now.
“We will be working hard during the training sessions to ensure we are well-prepared for the second test,” Williams said.
Despite the one-sided nature of the first test, Eastern Province cricket authorities are hoping the fans will come out in force, particularly after the successful hosting of the World Sevens Series at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“We really hope that Nelson Mandela Bay sports fans will come out and support the Proteas in the same way they did the Blitzbokke,” EP Cricket president Donovan May said.
“To keep the Proteas’ fire burning, we need to fill the stadium and show our support.
“As usual with cricket test matches, ticket sales are fairly slow at this stage, but fans will get a chance to see their heroes in action as they prepare for the clash, starting on Friday.”
Tickets for the match, which starts at 10.30am, are on sale at the St George’s Park ticket office or online at www.ticketpros.co.za
The ticket office is open today from 8.30am to 4pm and tomorrow from 8.30am to 3pm.
The Proteas will hold a training session at St George’s from 9.30am to 12.30pm today and 2pm to 5pm tomorrow, while the West Indies will hold a training session at the same venue from 2pm to 5pm today and 9.30am to 12.30pm tomorrow. – Tremaine van Aardt and Neale Emslie