Rassie van der Dussen says the way Anrich Nortje dealt with bouncers from England’s fast bowlers gave an indication of the kind of mental toughness to be expected from South Africa under new head coach Mark Boucher.
Nortje and Test debutant Van der Dussen shared a crucial second innings partnership of 91 in the first Test in Centurion, which played a big part in the home team eventually winning by 107 runs.
“When they came really hard at us, those are the things you live for. (Anrich) was obviously jumping around to those short balls," Van der Dussen said ahead of the second Test, starting at Newlands on Friday.
“I said, listen, I promise you it may not be fun in the moment but the satisfaction afterwards, that’s the fun part of it, so hang in there, we’re going to get through this.
“Guys like Boucher, (Jacques) Kallis have brought that really hard mentality that I think you need in Test cricket. It’s a high-pressure environment out there on the field and you need that hardness, that toughness."
Having survived to the end of the second day, the pair batted together for another hour and a half on day three.
Van der Dussen’s knock of 51 in his first Test match made him the first player in world cricket to make a half-century on his first appearance in all three forms of the international game, having done so at Twenty20 and one-day level.
Philander Bows Out
“It played into our hands, them getting frustrated and going to short-pitched bowling. On that wicket you just want to hit the top-of-the-stumps length," the 30-year-old added.
“One ball goes up, one goes down, it was seaming around. So we were saying to ourselves, if they are bowling short to us we are winning this battle."
While Van der Dussen, Dwaine Pretorius, Nortje and Pieter Malan will be making their first Test appearances at Newlands, opening bowler Vernon Philander will be playing in his 11th and final Test at the ground, having announced he will retire from international cricket at the end of the series.
“There’s no better place to be playing your cricket," Philander said of the ground where he has played most of his domestic cricket and where he has taken 51 of his 220 Test wickets.
Philander said he would not be deviating from his career-long mantra of keeping his game simple, bowling accurately and quickly finding the right length to bowl on.
He was also looking forward to seeing spearhead Kagiso Rabada bowling at his best after going through a relatively lean period.
“He was going to get a knock at some stage, a bit of a dip in form, but the only way to get through it is to go through it yourself," said Philander.
“The longer you play, the more you realise that the simpler you keep it, the more results you are going to get. He’s gone through that phase where he’s wanted to try a few things and it hasn’t really worked and he’s gone back to the old simple self and it seems to be working again."