TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THINK pink. SA will do plenty of just that in the coming days as they prepare to make their acquaintance with cricket’s newest toy.
SA will start their tour to Australia at the weekend with a day/night warm-up match using the pink ball at Adelaide Oval.
The visitors will return to Adelaide next month to play what could be the deciding game of the test series will be played under the same conditions. That match will be SA’s first day/night test.
“I haven’t faced or thrown the pink ball around so it’s all pretty new to me,” SA captain Faf du Plessis told reporters on Tuesday after the squad’s arrival in Adelaide.
“I know some of the guys have pink balls in their kit, especially the bowlers.
“We’ve asked around a little bit and read the stuff other teams have been saying about the pink ball.”
Some of that intelligence has been gathered in-house, what with test squad members Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Temba Bavuma, Dane Vilas and Vernon Philander all having played a day/night first-class match on SA A’s tour to Australia in July and August.
“That’s why we sent guys like Stephen Cook and Vernon Philander on the A tour,” SA coach Russell Domingo said.
“So there is a little bit of experience and they have given us feedback on what conditions are like with the pink ball.”
Only three day/night tests have yet been played, starting with Australia’s match against New Zealand in Adelaide in November.
How big an edge would that experience give the home side?
“Australia have only played one test match (using the pink ball) and that lasted three-and-a-half days,” Domingo said. “So I suppose they have got an advantage, but they haven’t played that much either.”
Domingo and his players arrived in Adelaide fresh from whitewashing the Australians 5-0 in a one-day series in SA that ended last Wednesday.
“Five-nil was a huge highlight in all of our careers; we had an exceptional series,” Du Plessis said.
“A lot’s been said about the (inexperienced) Australian team but I felt we played consistently good cricket, and we take a lot of confidence from that.
“We appreciate that this is a different series, different ball and different teams, but we do come over here confident.
“The guys are all in good touch, but we do have to start fresh and on a clean slate. We by no means think we’ll rock up here in Australia and it’ll be easy.
“It never is. Australia in Australia is as hard as the Indian team in India.
“They’re an extremely competitive team and we’ll have to play good cricket to compete with them.
“But the performances we had in SA does bring us here a little bit more confident.”
Du Plessis doubted that AB de Villiers, who has been ruled out of test series by an elbow injury that has required surgery, would fulfill his stated hope of returning to fitness in time to play in the third test.
“We’re not expecting it,” Du Plessis said.
“If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, we’ve got some guys who are capable of putting in good performances.
“He wants to play. It’s pink-ball test cricket, and most of us in the team are not young pups anymore.
“AB’s a very competitive guy and he wants to put himself out there against the best in the world.
“So I’m assuming he’ll be in SA trying to get ready. But after a big operation like that and from the doctors’ reports that I’ve read it doesn’t seem likely that he will be fit.”