CENTURION - South African captain Hashim Amla said on Tuesday he believed his team was well equipped to continue winning matches while they go through what he described as a transition period.

Speaking on the eve of the first Test against the West Indies at SuperSport Park — South Africa’s first home Test since the retirement of star players Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith — Amla said there was enough experience in the team to enable new players to settle into their roles. “It has been very exciting,” he said. “We always knew when Jacques and Graeme retired that we would have to go through a transition period. Fortunately there are quite a few of us who have played international cricket for quite a long time, to keep the core of the team together and for the culture of the team to continue.

“When we retire the young players who have come in will have to take the team forward. “We really hope the young guys who are in the system gain as much knowledge and experience as possible.  “You want to make the transition as natural as possible but there’s an element of hard work in every relationship. You’ve got to pass on what you’ve learnt, what the Proteas stand for and the most important factor is to continue winning cricket matches.”

Two of the senior players, batsman AB de Villiers and fast bowler Dale Steyn, will be marking their tenth anniversary as Test players on Tuesday, both playing on their home ground. They made their debut against England on December 17, 2004. “They have been exceptional performers for us,” said Amla. “Ten years ago you could see the raw talent of Dale Steyn but over the years he has refined his skills to be unmatched in the world. The same with AB, I don’t think there is a better batsman in the world.”

West Indian captain Denesh Ramdin admitted that his team faced a “very challenging series” against the number one-ranked South Africans. “Trying to beat them is going to be difficult,” he admitted. “But he said he was confident the West Indies were making progress as a team. “So far we are on the right step. We just need to be more consistent all round.” Ramdin said batting would be crucial. “The batting hasn’t been up to scratch over the past couple of years and it will be up to myself, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels ‘the experienced players’ to perform.”