Kirsten eyes Proteas progress
Gary Kirsten is eager for South Africa to show their impressive display in the first Investec Test was no fluke.
The Proteas defeated England by an innings and 12 runs at the Kia Oval after compiling a huge total of 637 for two declared on the back of Hashim Amla’s epic unbeaten triple hundred.
Kirsten is well aware that his side are likely to come up against improved opposition when the three-match series resumes at Headingley Carnegie next Thursday.
Yet he is fully focussed on ensuring South Africa attain the same level of performance as they seek a victory that would ensure they replace England as the world’s number-one ranked team.
“We’ve got a great respect for the England cricket team. We know they will try and bounce back,” said Kirsten.
“We’re not going to take anything for granted. We’re going to spend a lot of time focusing on what we need to do to give ourselves the best chance of winning.
“I think we’ve got a long way to go; we’ve put our peg in the ground - we want to become the best cricket team in the world and we know what we need to do to be able to achieve that. This is just one part of the process.
“We had a good tour of New Zealand and achieved what we wanted to achieve there, and this is the next hurdle. We are 30% of the way through the Test series - there is a lot of work to be done; there is a lot of focus needed.”
Asked if South Africa could improve on their efforts in south London, Kirsten replied: “It was a great performance and you’re not going to always have it run that way. You’re going to be put under pressure by teams and the game is going to unfold differently.
“We think that we can go out and play cricket like that on a regular basis, rather than that being a one-off Test match.
“I’m not saying we’ll be 650 for two again but we feel that we can put in really good performances on a daily basis.”
South Africa’s unity and togetherness has been highlighted as a significant factor in their recent good form.
Kirsten confirmed he is currently overseeing a happy camp and believes his players are benefiting from paying increased attention to the team’s needs.
“We spend a lot of time setting up the environment for success,” he explained.
“People need to enjoy playing together, believe in each other and know that each guy can go out and make a big performance for the team.
“We’re trying to move away from the focus on individual brilliance and bring individual brilliance into what we want to achieve as a team.
“You certainly can’t hide the fact that someone who gets 300 for the team - it’s individually an unbelievable performance.
“But, as Hashim has said about 50 times since he came off yesterday, it’s all about us as a team and what we want to achieve. I’m excited by that.”