AS Zimbabwe and South Africa prepare to make history on December 26, emotions seem to be running wild within both camps.
For the Proteas, an aura of excitement has gripped the Southern African nation who will welcome two of their beloved sons, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn, back into the fold.
De Villiers has not played a Test match since January 2016 with his absence being attributed to a combination of an injury layoff and a self-imposed sabbatical that sidelined him from most of this year’s cricket.
While De Villiers remained available for limited-overs matches, the 33-year-old wicketkeeper batsman has since recommitted himself to playing for South Africa across all formats.
Similarly, Steyn has not played any international cricket for over a year since breaking a bone in his shoulder in Australia November last year.
Both men have been included in Cricket South Africa Invitational XI scheduled to play a three-day warm match against the Chevrons, from December 20-22.
The duo also look to be odds-on favourites to take part in the historic Boxing Day Test, and get some much needed game time before the Proteas host India at the end of the month.
As far as the Chevrons are concerned, the team finds itself in uncharted waters and a mixture of anxiety, dread and excitement characterised the team’s mood hours before departure yesterday.
It will be a different Christmas for the Chevrons who will be part of Test cricket history when they take on South Africa in the inaugural day-night four-day Test in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day.
The format is under a trial run until the 2019 World Cup and the two neighbouring countries get proceedings under way. Former Test captain Brendan Taylor has had experience with the pink ball during his County stint at Nottinghamshire, but admits this will be different if not difficult.
“It’s something new to world cricket and certainly very new to Zimbabwe Cricket; it’s the first time we have ever played under such conditions,” said the 31-year-old wicketkeeper batsman.
“I know as an individual I was lucky enough to play one in England for Nottinghamshire, but it’s something that we all still trying to grasp.
“Cricket on Boxing day that’s another first for us and Christmas will be very tame this time around,” he said. Opening batsman Chamu Chibhabha is chuffed at the prospect of opening yet another chapter in his international career, and will have his family with him for support.
“With my family coming over, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am looking forward to the experience of playing under lights with the pink ball on Boxing Day. I am excited and really happy to be a part of the squad representing the country,” he said. As for Kyle Jarvis, the 28-year-old just wants a win.
“Excited and going there with full intention to win. We have an exciting group of players who are capable of winning, a Boxing Day Test anywhere in the world is an exciting prospect let alone against the Proteas.
“I’m loving being back home, and looking forward to putting in some match winning performances,” said the former Lancashire County player.
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