Durban – The recent farce of a Test series between the Proteas and the “Black Craps” emphasised just why the ICC needs to look at splitting the best and the rest.
Brendon McCullum’s unit was hopeless, an embarrassment that even made their own countrymen ponder whether teams will care to keep honouring fixtures against them in future.
The only highlight of their tour from hell so far was a T20 squeak home in East London, and even then, they needed a century from Martin Gutpill, which was reached off the last ball of the match.
That one match was exciting, but for the rest of their stay, the Kiwis have offered up the kind of spineless tripe that even the SA Under-19 side would have fancied getting at.
It makes you wonder why the Proteas’ intriguing tour of Australia was nipped in the bud, when it was guaranteed to provide a contest between two giants of the game. At the worst, it should have been a four-Test rubber, if not the five that their considerable talents deserve.
The rash of lopsided match-ups against teams whose best players conserve their energies for the dollar-dash that T20 cricket has become, should be snuffed out by creating a two-tier system.
South Africa, England, Australia and – for now – India seem to be the only nations bothered with trying to be the best Test side in the world. Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as we will no doubt see next month, blow hot and cold when the mood takes them.
The public would much rather see the world’s best play each other home and away every year, than be subjected to the virtual fare that New Zealand have given us over the festive season.
How they can call themselves a Test team is a mind boggle.
For the Proteas, the series became an ideal chance to fatten up averages, and Dean Elgar will not care one jot that his maiden Test ton came against a powder puff attack. Such is life.
Pakistan arrive next, and at least their varied attack will stretch the Proteas’ powers of concentration a bit more.
But before that, the “Black Craps” will no doubt rouse themselves for the ODI series. Gary Kirsten’s men will look to build some momentum in a year that has a Champions Trophy to look forward to.
One of the more interesting developments is the ascension of Quinton de Kock into the squad. Even Mark Boucher has been roped in to help the youngster settle at the top level. His performance with the gloves in the T20 series suggested that he needs all the help he can get.
The Proteas’ top brass may have high hopes for him – especially as they love a keeper who can wield the willow – but he has sadly neglected his glovework over the last season.
In the T20 series he hardly bothered to go for anything that was bowled down the leg-side. Against the listless Kiwis, it didn’t matter, but he will need to kick those lazy habits if he is to justify the faith that the selectors have invested in him.
And the only way he will get sharper with the gloves is at domestic level, with the Lions. Of course, that spot is currently occupied by a certain Mr Tsolekile, who is trying to prove points of his own to the men who pick the national team.
How they sort that one out will be interesting. Someone, probably the unfortunate Lions coach, Geoff Toyana, will have to make a tough call eventually.
With both being rather fiery characters anyway, they may need to get on the gloves and sort it out like grown men. It would be the first time any of the Proteas break a sweat this summer. – Sunday Tribune