While the third Test between SA and Pakistan is a dead rubber, no extra motivation is required for the players, says Proteas' coach Gary Kirsten.
“We want to make sure that every time we go out onto the cricket field, as a Test playing side, that we're highly competitive and a difficult side to beat,” Kirsten said in Centurion on Wednesday, with the Proteas on the brink of a series whitewash.
“It's hard to say we won't lose a game this year, but we like to think we'll get very close to that.”
Kirsten said they were not looking at this match, or the series, in isolation and the team had bigger goals to reach. “We set our blueprint a while back and that includes some long term goals. After last year's success, this year is a very important one for us to maintain our levels of consistency.
“To represent your country is a massive thing and we will continue to pick a full strength team in every Test match I'm involved in.”
With Morne Morkel injured, team management confirmed earlier in the week that Rory Kleinveldt was back in the side and Kyle Abbot would be the next seam bowling reserve. “It's always tough for a guy who sits on the fringes, but Rory has played three Tests now and he's very much part of this team,” Kirsten said.
“We don't look at ourselves as a team of 11, but rather as a squad of 15, and I keep the players well-informed of where they sit within the team.
"I see it as a great opportunity for him to stake his claim as one of the premier fast bowlers in the country and he's relishing the chance.”
While much of the focus had been on South Africa's consistently effective pace attack, Kirsten said the batsmen had played just as important a role and the difficulty of batting on South African wickets was not to be underestimated.
“South Africa, without a doubt, has the toughest conditions for batting so I give credit to our batsmen for their performance on wickets which are doing a fair amount.
“I think they do an incredible job and maybe we need to realign our yardsticks in South African conditions. Often they are measured on scoring hundreds or reaching totals of 400s, but in South Africa, sometimes 300 is a very good score.”
Responding to the pressure
Despite being 2-0 up in the series, the Proteas were still wary of Pakistan, but Kirsten felt confident his team would once again react to the pressure.
“We knew we would have a big backlash at Newlands and be put under pressure but we responded brilliantly,” he said.
“We had individuals who stepped up, who had never had to step up before – our lower order batsmen made telling contributions and we needed them in that game.
"I have no doubt they will put us under pressure again and we're going to have to respond to that.” – Sapa