It's the start of a new chapter – Du Plessis hails much-needed win for Proteas

By Sports Desk December 29, 2019

South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis is hopeful his side's 107-run victory over England in the first Test at Centurion heralds the start of a brighter period for the Proteas.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) was blighted by a series of off-field issues, including the suspension of CEO Thabang Moroe, disputes with the South African Cricketers' Association and the loss of a major sponsor, prior to their series with England getting under way.

However, following the appointments of Graeme Smith as interim director of cricket and Mark Boucher as head coach, Du Plessis' men began a new era in encouraging fashion by winning the opening Test on Sunday, bowling England out for 268 after the tourists had been set an unlikely target of 376 for victory.

"We needed that," said Du Plessis at the post-match presentation. "Obviously the last couple of months, as a Test team, have been tough for us, but we worked really hard this week.

"I thought it was a very, very good Test match, two teams fighting really hard all the way, and today's effort was incredible.

"We haven't won a Test match in a while. It's the start of a new chapter. We want to make sure we're improving as a Test team again. We want to go up to better things again and this is just the start.

"We know it's going to be a long journey to get there, but we'll make sure we keep working hard and putting in the right things."

Du Plessis was particularly delighted by the efforts of a bowling department that is set to be weakened when Vernon Philander retires from international cricket after this series to take up a Kolpak deal in English county cricket.

Anrich Nortje shone in his first home Test, while Kagiso Rabada claimed seven wickets in the match as the ever-impressive Philander received able support.

"I thought Anrich Nortje was really good," said Du Plessis. "Obviously we expect that from KG [Rabada], he's a world-class performer for us, but Anrich, in his first Test at home, he's probably not someone that you would think has a lot of control. We know he has got a lot of pace, but I thought he bowled with great control, executed the right lengths to different batters and bowled with some really good pace as well.

"So [there are] real good signs for the Test team moving forward. Obviously, we've lost quite a few bowlers and with Vern deciding that he wants to go and move on to greener pastures, we need new bowlers to step up to the platform now.

"We've had Morne [Morkel] and Dale [Steyn] and other guys like that, KG, step up when there was old bowlers bowling at the time and now we're gonna need one or two more to come to the fore."

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