POTCHEFSTROOM - No-balls and dropped catches proved to be South Africa’s undoing in an error-strewn series in England during the winter, and at the start of the new coaching era for the Proteas some of those same problems have cropped up in this opening Test against Bangladesh.
They may not prove as costly in this match or this series, but Ottis Gibson will know that those areas need resolving before the bigger challengers arrive against India and Australia later this summer.
Temba Bavuma gave assurances on Sunday night that the errors weren’t deliberate and that the team wasn’t shirking at training. However if mistakes keep being made something has to be changed.
“We’ve tried to work very hard on our discipline, we’ve tried to cut out taking wickets with no-balls,” he said. “Even I’ve been a culprit,” he quipped. “But it’s frustrating, especially when it’s a quality player like Mushfiqur (Rahim).”
For Morne Morkel, who’s now had 14 wickets denied him because of no-balls, it’s mortifying.
“He’s a big team player, and he knows there’s a lot of responsibility thrust on his shoulders, having to lead the attack. When he commits a cardinal sin, he really takes it emotionally. Knowing the guy, I understand the emotional side of it all and I know now in the changeroom he’s still having a go at himself.”
The dropped catches which were a feature of the series in England have continued here; Dean Elgar missed two chances off Keshav Maharaj’s bowling in the first innings and on Sunday Faf du Plessis dropped what was for him an easy catch at second slip off Kagiso Rabada.
"Even before England we didn’t do our basics well,” Bavuma remarked. “We’ve continued to stress it quite heavily and will keep emphasising it, not rest on our laurels with those aspects. I don’t think it will ever be perfect, but as long as we are aware of it and keep putting in the effort, we can’t fault ourselves on that.
“We are not cheating ourselves at practice, if it doesn’t work out on the field we have to brush it off and look forward to the other ones,” he added.
Maharaj, who picked up the important wicket of Imrul Kayes before the rain will be central to SA’s chances.