Cape Town - Cricket SA appointed Shukri Conrad on Monday as the new Proteas Test coach. IOL Sport’s Zaahier Adams has identified five immediate challenges Conrad faces in a bid to resurrect the team’s fortunes after a dismal tour of Australia.
The feeble batting unit
South Africa’s top-order are devoid of confidence, and of course, runs. There have only been two Test centuries over the past 12 months, and none of the batters average over 40. It is a massive problem and won’t be changed overnight. Conrad will have to call on all his years of experience to find a formula that remedies this problem.
Dean Elgar’s future as captain
The current Proteas skipper may not be the cause of all the problems the Proteas are currently experiencing, but the leader has to take some accountability. Furthermore, Elgar’s form has deserted him since the home India tour a year ago and has been a shadow of the player that has led from the front before. His tactical decisions recently have also left a lot to be desired such as when he opted to bowl first in the second Test in Manchester, and also the field placings and bowling changes in Australia.
Kagiso Rabada’s workload
The Proteas pace spearhead was a shadow of himself in Australia where it seemed that the burden of carrying the national team’s attack across formats seemed to weigh him down. South Africa may not play many Test matches, but it's what Rabada plays in between that should concern Conrad.
The limited schedule
South Africa only play four Test matches over the next year. A two-Test series at home against the West Indies next month before India visit for another two-match series next summer. There are no incoming or outgoing tours in the upcoming winter. This will prove extremely difficult for Conrad to foster a team culture, while at the same time he will not have plenty of time to work with the players on any technical deficiencies.
Identify the brand of cricket the Proteas want to play
England have transformed the Test landscape with “Bazball” and their ultra-aggressive approach to red-ball cricket. Conrad will need to formulate a similar plan in how his team is going to approach Test cricket, and once that has been identified, needs to then select the players who are capable of slotting into that plan.