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‘Test cricket has adapted’

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Change with the times or get left behind, says Proteas captain Faf du Plessis.

JUGGERNAUT: Faf du Plessis and his South African team romped to victory against Pakistan yesterday to secure an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Test series.

Change with the times or get left behind, says Proteas captain Faf du Plessis.

Du Plessis was, of course, speaking after South Africa took just 47 minutes on the fourth morning to close out a nine-wicket victory over Pakistan, and thereby take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

With the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion last week also only utilising just three days to achieve a result, there has been great concern that matches no longer run for the full five days.

But Du Plessis believes that despite the regular loss of two playing days, it has not short-changed the spectator in any way. In fact, he believes the entertainment has increased dramatically and that Test cricket is a greater spectacle than ever before.

“I’m not a very clever guy when it comes to stats, but there’s not a lot of Test cricket going five days around the world anymore,” Du Plessis said.

“The speed of play has gone up tremendously. Test cricket has evolved and it is great for the fans. They are getting fours, sixes, lots of wickets and pace bowlers bowling.

“Test cricket for me the last few years has been the most exciting format of all.”

The South African skipper believes that for all the fears that rapid growth of T20 cricket around the world may swallow up the longest format, he claims that it has in fact given Test cricket a much-needed injection.

“Cricket is not the same as it used to be four to five years ago,” said Du Plessis.

“A (batsman) leaves a couple of balls and (as a bowler) you feel the batsmen are going to come after you. Yesterday was a good example when Pakistan had an opportunity to bat they went at 4.5 runs an over,” he said.

“Test cricket is the most exciting format of all. You always feel that every session is so important. If you just a little bit off the boil, then a Test match is gone because it moves so quickly. So to answer your question, T20 is the big change in Test cricket.”

South Africa certainly play an aggressive brand of Test cricket, particularly at home, where they are prone to utilise a quartet of fast bowlers – like here at Newlands – on spicy, bouncy pitches.

It has proved successful with the Proteas now having won seven series on the trot in Mzansi, and 18 of their last 20 Test matches.

There are, though, concerning factors such as the selectors opting to leave out specialist spinner Keshav Maharaj on more than the odd occasion now, despite Maharaj being “probably South Africa’s best spinner that we have ever produced”.

Du Plessis was quick to stress that Maharaj remains a major part of the Proteas’ plans going forward.

“We have assured him already before the Test match. He is probably South Africa’s best spinner that we have ever produced and he will be for a long time, and he knows that,” he said.

“It’s just horses for courses when we’re playing a subcontinent team that’s very good against spin. He’ll be the first name on the sheet when the pitches allow for spin. I think of PE and Durban. You look at conditions and grounds, you look at what is more uncomfortable for your opponents to face.

“I think in this specific case seam was the right call, when three guys are running in at 145 kph it’s not fun for a batter.”