Kepler Wessels satisfied with preparation
Kepler Wessels, South Africa's batting consultant, was satisfied with what his team achieved during the two-day game against Board President's XI, their only warm-up match on the tour. "The good thing is our top six had valuable time in the middle so they got enough time against the seamers and some good practice against the spinners as well, which is ideal for us," Wessels said. "On the whole we're very happy with the outcome."
Over the last two days, South Africa's fast bowlers and top-order batsmen impressed, but their spinners struggled and they lost late wickets to the Board President's XI slow bowlers. Wessels didn't read too much into losing seven wickets to Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin. "In this particular instance two of our guys [Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla] retired when they probably would have just carried on batting - they were in no trouble at all. The only real problems they caused was right at the end with the tail, which can happen. You never want anyone to do well against you, but clearly it's not as big an issue as it could have been had they taken out the top order."
Wessels did admit, though, that Johan Botha would push Paul Harris, who looked ineffective with the ball. What compounds the problem for them is that Botha didn't look far better either. "Well Johan Botha for us is always an option - as a package he's a good player," Wessels said. "We haven't got round to sitting down and thinking about final selection at all. A lot of that will be depending on the conditions."
The big positive for South Africa was both Ashwell Prince and JP Duminy, who had a pretty lukewarm series against England, got a few runs (42 and 39 respectively) under their belts. "Ashwell looked good," Wessels said. "Pretty solid in his technique, and also his focus in the last couple of weeks has been good. He did well in the domestic stuff and carried that on today so that's good. The thing with JP was that he came in when the spinners were on - which he'll probably do in the Tests - with a close-in field and he handled it pretty well. So that was the biggest plus out of the day."
This is yet another cramped tour, which is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception. Wessels said much of it would be offset by the fact that South Africa are coming off a pretty tough series, which will have them tuned in. "It (the recent series) flows into it," he said. "I don't feel so concerned after the practice we had on Monday, the two days we've had here and the two days we've got coming up. I think that by the time the first Test starts it will be enough, given that they came out of a tough series so it's just really a case of adapting to conditions and it's going to be enough."