Johannesburg: South African captain Faf du Plessis admitted on Wednesday that Kyle Abbott’s Kolpak defection had been a disruption ahead of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka starting at the Wanderers Stadium on Thursday.
But, he said, the team had “moved on” and were fully focused on completing a clean sweep in the series.
Abbott had his Cricket South Africa contract cancelled immediately after he revealed during the second Test in Cape Town that he had signed a Kolpak contract with Hampshire, which will rule him out of future matches for South Africa.
"It’s definitely had an effect,” said Du Plessis. “It’s taken a bit of the shine off our Test series win but it’s time to move on and build a new bowling attack.”
Du Plessis said South Africa had failed to take an opportunity for a clean sweep in Australia last month.
"In international cricket you have a lot of tough times. You don’t get opportunities like this very often. It is an opportunity to do it now."
Du Plessis said left-arm seamer Wayne Parnell would replace Abbott but Du Plessis did not rule out a first cap for Duanne Olivier, 24, in an all-seam attack.
"It’s the first time I’ve seen him bowl but there’s something there," he said.
Du Plessis praised Hashim Amla, who will make his 100th Test appearance on Thursday, and said he was not concerned about the batsman’s recent string of low scores.
"He has been the rock of our batting. Together with Jacques Kallis he has probably been the most consistent player South Africa has ever had."
Even when Amla wasn’t scoring runs he was an asset to the team, according to Du Plessis.
"He brings a calmness to the dressing room and adds a lot of value. He’s had two lean periods in his career but we know that a double century is just around the corner."
Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews admitted that his team had been “humiliated” in the first two Tests.
"We have to look forward. We haven’t played our best cricket. We need to hit our straps. We have pride at stake."
Mathews said Sri Lanka had played good cricket in patches but needed to be more consistent, with the batsmen in particular needing to concentrate for long periods.