Players who stood out and others who need to pull up their socks for the Proteas
JOHANNESBURG – Quinton de Kock acknowledged that the Proteas didn’t play their best against Sri Lanka, allowing the tourists openings at different times and thus putting the home team under what the captain said was “unnecessary pressure.”
Nevertheless there were some players who enhanced their reputations in the series, while others were off the boil. Stuart Hess looks at which individuals did well, and others who need to pull up their socks.
The Do Gooders
One of the major pluses of the series according to Mark Boucher. It was his ability to learn, to keep trusting himself and accept responsibility that impressed. With bio-secure environments likely to become the norm for the next 18 months, Boucher and the selection panel are keen on building as wide a base of fast bowlers as they can and Sipamla’s emergence is vital in that respect. He can swing the ball, and with a little more work will hopefully be able to increase speed as well.
It’s essential that South Africa can get a high quality all-rounder into the starting team, and Mulder - despite not having too much opportunity with the bat - may be the answer. The fact that he bowled 52 overs in the two Tests will provide a huge boost to his self-confidence, given the problems he’s had with fitness over the course of his short professional career. Mulder, should he progress as coaching staff hopes, will provide much needed balance and allow flexibility in terms of selection.
His average ticked over to 40 during his crucial century in the second Test. That figure is always the mark of an outstanding batsmen, and in Elgar’s case it really does put him in the category of elite contemporary openers. South Africa is a difficult place to bat, arguably the hardest in the world, and he averages 46.50 here. In batting order that’s undergone numerous changes in the last four years, and with a middle order that is shaky, Elgar provides much-needed stability at the top of the order.
NEED TO DO BETTER
Quinton de Kock
He’s a reluctant Test captain. He’s also batting at no.5, when he’s best spot is no.7 and he’s keeping wicket. On top of that he’s the limited overs captain, opener, keeper and in this new normal, he’s experienced restrictive living in bio bubbles that can’t be good for someone who’s a free spirit that loves nature. De Kock sounded weary at the end of the series, lamenting the difficulties of playing during the pandemic. He needs to be monitored closely or South Africa risks breaking him.
He really missed an opportunity at Centurion to get a second Test century and made another mistake in the first innings at the Wanderers. Bavuma’s not yet in any danger of losing his place - that half century in the first Test gives him some breathing room - but he really needs a run of good scores to help solidify that middle order. Bavuma’s played 42 Tests and the whole ‘he’s only made one century,’ is becoming increasingly heavier around his neck. The series in Pakistan will be absolutely crucial to his future in the Test side.