PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa,(Reuters) – South Africa coach Russell Domingo says his side will have to show patience on what is expected to be a slow wicket at St George’s Park for the first test against Sri Lanka starting on Boxing Day.
South Africa have recorded big wins over New Zealand and Australia at the ground since 2013, and drew with West Indies in a rain-hit test two years ago.
Domingo says the team’s seamers in particular enjoy the coastal venue.
“The guys love coming to Port Elizabeth,” Domingo told reporters on Thursday. “We feel that the wicket suits us to a degree. The ball tends to reverse swing here because of the abrasive wicket which helps our seamers.
“If there is a little bit of an Easterly (wind) or overhead conditions, we are able to exploit those conditions as well.
“It’s never historically been a fast wicket, it’s a wicket where you have to be patient and you have to grind out runs. That’s the strength of this particular side, our levels of patience and being able to withstand those types of periods.”
After a home series loss to England last year, South Africa have rebounded with a series win on home soil over New Zealand in August and most recently a 2-1 away success in Australia last month.
It is a sign that the team, which is still in transition following the introduction of a number of new players over the last 18 months, is beginning to mature.
“(Opener) Stephen Cook has two test hundreds in six matches, (fast bowler) Kagiso Rabada and (middle-order batsman) Temba Bavuma have won test matches for us.
“Those young players, once they perform, feel like they belong and that takes a lot of pressure off them and allows them to free up and put in more of those performances.”
The series will be the first with Faf du Plessis as South Africa’s full-time captain after he took over from the injured AB de Villiers and Domingo says it is important they continue their upward curve at home.
“It’s a big series for us. We have been playing some good test match cricket of late and to continue that form and the brand of cricket that we want to play is of paramount importance for us.”
The second test will be played in Cape Town from Jan. 2 with the final match in Johannesburg from Jan. 12.