The Castle Lager Proteas are out to give South African fans a cheerful end to the year in the second Sunfoil Test against India starting at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on Boxing Day. The traditional fixture makes a return to the calendar after last year’s re-scheduling, and has spurred on Graeme Smith and his players.
“It feels fantastic, you can feel the buzz," Smith said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. "People are looking forward to the Boxing Day Test match here in Durban which is exciting for us as a team.
“When I started playing for South Africa the Boxing Day and New Year’s Test were our marquee Tests, that’s one of the reasons we don’t tour Australia at this time of the year.
“This is our last opportunity in a marquee Test match of the year and season to make a big play for our fans."
The Proteas are determined to improve on their poor record at Kingsmead, where they last won a Test match in 2008 against the West Indies.
Smith expects the surface to change daily, and feels it will be important for his players to read the situations accordingly if they are to come out on top in the match.
“The Wanderers has been a result wicket for the last period of time,” he said. “It’s generally a tough place to bat, when teams get in it is a tough pitch to control.
“It’s best to say upfront that we haven’t had the best record in Durban over the last period of time,” he continued. “We have an opportunity to put that right. I think one of the reasons why is that we haven’t really adapted to the surfaces well and I think we have had good discussions about that.”
Morne Morkel remains doubtful for the match after spraining his ankle during the first Test. This could open up an opportunity for either Rory Kleinveldt or Kyle Abbott, with both bowlers having proven their capabilities in this premier format.
“We have been fortunate over the last period of time because we haven’t had any serious injuries to our frontline seamers,” Smith said. “A decision will be made on Morne this evening but we are still hopeful he will come through, he has done really well in the last few days.
“We have seen performances from guys that have been around the squad,” he said. “Guys like Kyle, who has come in as cover for Morne, played a once-off match and did well. Rory Kleinveldt has been around the squad for a while and he had a taste of International cricket at its toughest in Australia. I feel that we have enough bases covered to be effective even if Morne isn’t fit.”
The Proteas’ medical team will make a decision on Morkel’s availability on Wednesday.