One win doesn't define the Proteas' tour
JOHANNESBURG – There’s an old saying about one swallow and summer that is a favourite among the sporting fraternity.
So one poor performance from Faf de Klerk against the best rugby team in the world, doesn’t mean he should be dropped or that the Springboks can’t still go onto win the Rugby World Cup.
De Klerk had a bad game against New Zealand last Saturday, but he’s still SA’s best No 9, and the errors made, either his passing or kicking can be analysed and improved.
In much the same way, the Proteas' win over India in the third T20 International last Sunday in Bengaluru doesn’t make them world beaters all of a sudden.
But it is significant. Before getting onto why, it’s perhaps useful to point out that very few people look back on South Africa’s last tour to India in 2015 as successful, despite the Proteas winning both the ODI and T20 series’ on that tour. The Proteas were smashed 3-0 in the Test series - it would have been a whitewash were it not for rain in Bengaluru - and that tour is widely viewed as a failure.
So, while outlining the importance of Sunday’s win, it’s good to keep in mind that it won’t determine whether this year’s tour to India is a successful one or not - the outcome of the Test series will do that.
However that was, as former skipper Graeme Smith pointed out, a young and inexperienced Proteas team that tied the T20 International series against Virat Kohli’s men. The coaching set-up is also a drastically changed one and for this tour at least headed up by Enoch Nkwe, in the role of Team Director.
Nkwe is a little more than a year older than Test captain Faf du Plessis and has had just one year back in South Africa coaching at franchise level. It was a successful season with the Lions, but coaching domestically and doing so internationally are two very different beasts, especially when that new gig involves a new structure, a young team and working with players whose confidence took a big knock at the World Cup earlier in the year.
What Sunday’s win would have done is reinforce that some of the preparatory work that’s been going on in the last few weeks is working; some of the selections too, notably Temba Bavuma and Bjorn Fortuin.
It will help to relax the dressing-room, into which Du Plessis and a host of more experienced players will step this week. It was a significant win for this tour of India, whether it marks some kind of ‘line in the sand’ is something that can only be determined at some point later in the South African season.
Just like the sighting of one swallow not automatically meaning summer is here, so Sunday’s win doesn’t mean the Proteas “are back” or any such reawakening. But they will feel better about themselves, and that will be crucial ahead of the Test series that starts next week.@shockerhess