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Malibongwe Maketa in upbeat mood as South Africa's first Test against Australia looms

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Malibongwe Maketa in upbeat mood as South Africa's first Test against Australia looms

Brisbane, Dec 15 (Ajit Weekly News) Interim South Africa men’s head coach Malibongwe Maketa has no doubt that the Proteas are heading in the right direction as they build towards the first Test against Australia in Brisbane over the weekend.

The tourists drew their only warm-up fixture — a four-day encounter against a Cricket Australia XI played at The Allan Border Field in Brisbane — with most of their batters enjoying some much-needed time in the middle.

Batting had been an area of concern for the Dean Elgar-led side after their last tour to England earlier when the team struggled for big runs, albeit in difficult batting conditions and lost the series 2-1. Now Maketa is optimistic of their prospects in the first of three Tests starting at The Gabba on Saturday.

“I am very happy with where we are at the moment. We have been lucky to have come here and spent time and played in the conditions similar to what we’re going to play in. Allan Border (Field) is a little bit different compared to The Gabba in terms of the bounce and pace, but to be able to be here and play the way we have done has given us a lot of confidence.”

“And I am very confident in the sense that batters did get some runs in the warm-up game where (captain) Dean (Elgar) got a good hundred, Kyle (Verreynne) and Theunis (de Bruyn) got nice eighties…everybody got in.”

“Rassie (van der Dussen) got a ninety as well, so in that sense we got our opportunity to spend time in the middle and some of the guys got an opportunity to face enough balls to really make them feel comfortable. The bowlers hit the lengths that we’ve been challenging them to hit, so from that point of view I’m very happy.”

There was also praise for limited-overs skipper Temba Bavuma as he is all set to play his first long-format match in months. There were fears over the fitness of the right-hander, however, after he did not bat in the first innings on account of discomfort felt in his left elbow. But he returned to bat second time around when he faced nearly 100 deliveries without trouble.

“Very much so (I’m comfortable) because of how he’s batting. It would have been nice for him to have two innings, but he’s batted a lot of volume since we got here. So from that point of view, volume and work he’s put in, I’m very happy with his progress.”

“He spent a lot of time in the middle and hit the ball quite nicely. Even at our first practice at The Gabba, he was probably one of the best batters on show there. Where he is mentally, smiling, confident again, that for us bodes very well in terms of being one of our best batters going into this series,” added Maketa.

Asked about the possible make-up of his team for the first Test, Maketa remarked that it was too early to talk about that so far out before the match. “Currently we have our ideas, but we want to give the wicket a bit more time. Speaking to the curator here, he feels the wicket is still a long way out to know exactly how it’s going to play and how it’s going to look.”

“So we’ll give ourselves more time before making those decisions. If we’ve got a lot of grass and it’s really assisting the bowlers then we’re going to need an extra batter to give us that magical 400-450. If it’s really a tough wicket where you’re going to have to work hard to get your 20 wickets then you’re going to need that extra bowler and trust your top order to get you runs because it’s a good wicket.”

“That’s really what is driving us in terms of making a decision on the line-up. We are aware that we’re not here to protect anyone, if we’re going to have to go out there, knuckle down, bat and get big runs then we will go with six batters. If we feel we’ve got enough on the wicket to get through them with three bowlers and a spinner then we’ll make the decision that’s best for the team.”

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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