5 Things the Proteas need to fix before PE
CAPE TOWN – The Proteas will go into the third Test against England in Port Elizabeth on Thursday looking to right the wrongs from the second Test and regain the lead in the series after the visitors leveled things at Newlands.
We look at the things that Mark Boucher and his team have to fix before the game at Port Elizabeth's St George's Park.
1. The Stokes factor
If South Africa are to emerge victorious in this series, they are going to have a find a way to keep Ben Stokes at bay. The England maverick possesses that Midas touch where everything he touches turns to wickets and runs. Stokes single-handedly turned the Newlands Test in England's favour with a complete all-round performance.
2. Faf's form
Heading into the Newlands Test, there was concern over both captain's form. In fact, it was even hotter in Joe Root's kitchen with his entire leadership tenure under scrutiny. Had England lost the New Year Test, they would have been unable to win their third consecutive Test series. But Root responded with a solid half century and drove his team to victory on that epic final day. Du Plessis, meanwhile, bought some time with the SuperSport Park victory and remains the undisputed leader of the Test side, but he knows he needs to contribute more with the bat to help his team through this transition phase. The manner of his dismissal in the second innings would also have given his critics more ammunition and Du Plessis will want nothing more than to contribute in Port Elizabeth.
3. Can the real Keshav please stand up?
Keshav Maharaj is South Africa's most successful spinner since readmission and is a very valuable member of the Proteas attack. He may have felt undervalued during the Ottis Gibson reign and it seems to have affected his confidence for Maharaj has not been his usual consistent self during the first two Test matches. Claude Henderson was Maharaj's soundboard in the first couple of years of his Test career and now his long-time mentor Paul Harris has been brought in to work with the left-arm spinner. Harris has his work cut out for Maharaj needs to find his mojo quickly, especially as the Proteas approach the most spin-friendly surface of the series.
4. Keep faith with Hamza
The young Cape Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza has not fully utilised his opportunities yet during this series. The was an entertaining cameo at SuperSport Park, but a double failure in his first Test at his homeground Newlands. Hamza does have a technical fault with his right foot heading out to square leg prior to impact which opens up his stumps, but the youngster oozes talent and just needs to tighten up, especially against the likes of Stuart Broad.
5. Sit down with De Kock
I don't dispute that many have tried to sit Quinton de Kock down and tried to explain to him his responsibility within the Proteas batting line-up - he has even been tasked with leading the T20 side - but there must be someone that can get through to him. Perhaps that someone is Mark Boucher as the pair have a unique relationship for they are the possibly the only two people who truly understand each other. Hopefully Boucher can finally make De Kock understand that everytime he walks to the crease he carries his team's hopes with him and that he cannot throw his wicket away like he did at Newlands.