Port Elizabeth: As South Africa eye an unassailable lead in the three-Test series against West Indies starting Boxing Day, Faf du Plessis has sounded out a note of caution about the conditions at St George’s Park. The hosts closed out a 220-run win before lunch on day four at Centurion in the first Test on a track that saw 17 West Indian wickets fall to pace on a sporting surface, but slower and drier conditions in Port Elizabeth could suit the opponents better, felt du Plessis.
“I think the most important aspect of our game that we will need to work hard on is patience,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think conditions like this will probably bring them (West Indies) more into the game, it will be more even conditions. SuperSport Park was seaming and seamer friendly, and if our bowlers get a wicket like that they are dangerous.
“The PE wicket is a lot slower and spin does play more of a role so I think their bowling attack will be a lot happier with these conditions. Their batting unit will also be happier, the ball will probably not be as quick and won’t seam around, it will be a normal PE wicket so it will suit their style of play.”
Since 2000, South Africa have lost three of seven Test matches at St George’s Park and it incidentally it was to West Indies that they previously tasted defeat the venue in 2007, which is West Indies’ sole Test win in the country.
“The West Indies, as everyone knows, are a hot and cold team. They are either brilliant or they get a performance where we were outstanding in the previous game,” said du Plessis. “We know and we expect that the West Indies, after performance like that, will try to go the other way and be brilliant. We are aware of that and it’s important for us as a team to make sure that if they get into a position of strength we hold on for a while and try to get back the momentum on to our side, because if we have the momentum we are dangerous.”
The Centurion Test was not a personally memorable one for du Plessis, who scored 0 in a top-order mess that read 57/3 before skipper Hashim Amla (208), AB de Villiers (152) and the debutant Stiaan van Zyl (101*) drove the score to an impregnable 552/5 declared. However, a batting average 72 at St George’s Park with a Test-best of 137 at the venue left the 30-year-old confident of a strong comeback.
“From a personal point of view I have enjoyed good success here at this ground, it has been good to me,” said du Plessis. “I’m going to reflect on past performances and that will stand me in good stead. From a team point of view, we played really well against Australia. We know what worked against Australia so we have a lot to take from that game.”