The unfamiliar taste of a long overdue series win has made the Proteas hungry to clinch an ODI series whitewash over Australia in Potchefstroom on Saturday.
Skipper Quinton de Kock has indeed made ruthlessness a priority, though there’s the added bonus of South Africa being allowed to play with a bit more freedom because of the shakes being far lower.
And there’s no player who could do with some carte blanche than the Proteas captain himself.
Except for a match-winning 70 in the second T20 in Port Elizabeth, the Aussie visit has been a torrid one for the dynamic left-hander.
That knock has been sandwiched by scores of 2,5,15 and 0, which the left-arm pace of Mitchell Starc making him look all at sea.
Thankfully, that threat won’t be present again as Starc boarded a flight on Friday to go and support his wife, Alyssa Healy, who’ll turn out for the Aussies in tomorrow’s women’s T20 World Cup final against India.
With a hasty trip to India looming next week, South Africa need the overburdened De Kock to let go at the crease and clear his mind.
Not that he feels he’s out of touch anyway.
“I still believe that I’m actually batting well,” De Kock said on Friday.
“It’s just Starcy who’s been giving me a problem or two, but otherwise I feel like I’m in pretty good form.”
Even if he has become used to carrying the Proteas’ batting during the domestic summer, he’s certainly grateful for having a bit more support in recent times, notably from Heinrich Klaasen, who’s made a century and a fifty in his last two innings.
Naturally, the way in which opening partner Janneman Malan responded from a first-ball duck in Paarl – an unbeaten 129 Wednesday in Bloemfontein – is also encouraging.
“It’s good to see the boys coming in and scoring runs. It’s important that that happens. You can’t just rely on a few individuals,” said De Kock.
“It’s a great dynamic to have at the moment. Those runs take a lot off my back.”
Similarly, it’s a cue for Klaasen and co to go into overdrive.
“There’s more freedom, to go out and express ourselves. It might be nice to see a few new guys getting an opportunity. But there’s still a responsibility for them to go out, be focused and perform at their best. You want to win the series 3-0,” said De kock.