South Africa Emerging coach Shukri Conrad was pleased with the character displayed by his players following their series-clinching draw against Sri Lanka Emerging on Sunday.
The hosts batted out the final day of their second four-day encounter in Pretoria on Sunday, ensuring they won the two-match battle 1-0 – a hugely positive result against a strong touring side and one that came on the back of a disappointing Triangular One-Day Series.
“It’s particularly satisfying to win the series especially after a not so satisfying one-day triangular competition,” Conrad said. “I think we played the conditions very well overall, the pitch in the second match was perhaps too good to have forced a result.
“But it was really pleasing to see how our quick bowlers went on really flat wickets and I think that will stand them in good stead going forward.
“What was also encouraging was how out batsmen played against a Test spinner in Lasith Embuldeniya. He has a couple of Tests under his belt, he extracted some spin during the two games and bowled a lot of overs, so our guys were constantly tested.
“For them to come through was very satisfying. Another pleasing thing was that the guys got in and scored a couple of hundreds. That’s something that always ensures a good first innings total.”
Slow left-armer Embuldeniya, who has two Test caps for the Asian side, ended with a massive 18 wickets in the two games, double the tally of South Africa’s best performer, Marco Jansen, but also having bowled more than double the number of overs.
The fast bowler finished with nine wickets, while there were also encouraging performances by Nandre Burger (six), Kyle Simmonds (five) and Thando Ntini (four wickets in one match).
The home side filled the top three positions with the bat – captain Raynard van Tonder leading the way with 254 runs, followed by Janneman Malan (195) and Matthew Breetzke (179). Van Tonder and Breetzke also struck a century apiece.
With plenty of gloom after the recent World Cup, Conrad believes the Emerging players gave hope for the future.
“We don’t want to get too carried away, but as far as the future goes, it does look bright,” he added.
“We have a crop of some young and quick bowlers, I don’t want to single any one of them out, but as a unit, there’s a lot to look forward to.
“Then there’s some really good young batters as well, who need to be playing first-class cricket in South Africa and who need to be exposed to the rigours of franchise cricket.
“They cannot be sitting in the second tier of our system twiddling their thumbs. These are the young players that need to take South Africa cricket forward, so I’m very optimistic.
“It’s been a really tough month and a half, but I’m really proud about how the guys managed to come back and get a positive result at the end.”