The Castle Lager Proteas' Test squad has targeted the three-day warm-up match against Pakistan "A" starting in Sharjah on Tuesday as an opportunity to start the tour off positively and strongly. The Proteas will be playing 13 players in the match taking place at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, which forms an important part of the squad's preparation ahead of the Test series starting next week.
"The run out in the next three days in going to determine how sharp we are when we get to the first Test," Proteas bowling coach, Allan Donald said on Monday. "We are going to have to look after guys because the heat is a big factor but I don't have any doubt that we will go into the first Test 110% prepared. It’s important that we don't play catch-up cricket going into Abu Dhabi, the big thing in the next three days is for us to get some good overs and miles behind us."
JP Duminy is set to make a long awaited return to the Test format after an absence of almost a year due to injury, and describes getting back into the longer format of the game as akin to riding a bicycle.
"I’m quite happy to be starting back in," Duminy said after the Proteas' training session in Sharjah on Monday. "The last two months have been good from a performance point of view, I have really enjoyed being back playing and playing in different tournaments.”
Duminy was the man of the series during the T20 against Sri Lanka in August, and was consistent with the bat for the Hyderabad Sunrisers in the Champions League T20.
"I’m really just excited to be back in Test cricket to be honest," he continued. "South Africa hasn't played in seven months and everyone is geared up for the series; we want to hit the ground running from a Test series point of view and hopefully we can start off with the warm-up match tomorrow."
Duminy has been primed to play an important role with the ball, a responsibility he is eager to take on and one he has been working hard on with spin bowling consultant, Claude Henderson.
"Discussing different strategies and fields has helped, that is where Claude has been really good from a bowling perspective," Duminy said. "I think that is going to be important going forward in this series with the wickets turning more than they did before, for me the consistency in my length has always been key to my bowling performances."