Zimbabwe’s cricket team arrived at the weekend with their minds focused on improving on their last performance on South African soil, when their Tests in Cape Town and Centurion in March 2005 only lasted five days between the two games.
There is also pressure on Cricket South Africa (CSA) though to convince the holidaymakers and people of Port Elizabeth to get on board when they experiment with not only the first day/night Test in South Africa but also the first four-day Test, when the Proteas meet the tourists from Boxing Day.
In the eight previous Tests between the two neighbours, Zimbabwe have been on the receiving end of four innings defeats, two losses by nine wickets and one by seven wickets. The only draw came in Bulawayo in 2001, a tour on which both Tests went into the fifth day.
The Proteas squad for the one-off Test in Port Elizabeth will be announced on Tuesday, with the fitness of captain Faf du Plessis being the major question mark.
The 33-year-old injured his back during the Bangladesh series at the end of October and used the time off from that to also undergo shoulder surgery. He has been batting in the nets and will be named in the squad, but the final call on whether he will play against Zimbabwe will be made after a fitness test, probably on the 23rd.
“Faf is coming along, he’s on track, but it’s a week-by-week thing for him. He’s batting in the nets and he’ll have a fitness test in Port Elizabeth, but we will err on the side of caution and even if he’s fit, we might give him another week,” team doctor and manager Mohammed Moosajee told The Citizen on Monday.
The heroics that Chris Morris performed in the RamSlam T20 Challenge final for the Titans came at a cost as the all-rounder now has tightness in the groin, with CSA awaiting the results of the scans that were done on Monday.
The rest of the contenders for the Proteas squad are all fit, according to Moosajee.