What did the Proteas learn from the T20 series loss to Australia?
The Proteas suffered another humiliating defeat against Australia last night. Stuart Hess shares what he thinks the team can learn from their loss.
SOMEONE ELSE NEEDS TO SCORE RUNS BESIDES QUINTON DE KOCK
When last were the Proteas so reliant on one player for runs? It got ridiculous against Australia really.Quinton De Kock had to score, or else the team lost and Australia’s bowlers were too good for him to do so more than once. Where was Faf du Plessis? Rassie van der Dussen? David Miller? The All-rounders? (more of that anon). Those are experienced players - in Du Plessis and Miller’s case they’ve delivered under pressure in the IPL and other T20 tournaments around the world, but has their time passed? They are the most experienced white ball batsmen in the country, but they let the team down badly in this series. The batting has served up more questions than answers across all formats this summer. Is it time to just go ‘all in’ with young talent? Is that young talent out there and able to succeed at international level? Questions, questions, questions...finding answers seems beyond the Proteas right now.
Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar took 13 wickets between them in the series - and with all due respect, they’re not Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralitharan. Much was made of the SA under 19 team being incapable against spin, but judging from the Proteas this summer (remember Dom Bess took a Test ‘five-for’ against SA in PE) and watching domestic cricket, EVERY batsmen in the country, at all levels, can’t play spin. Whatever money has been spent sending players - batsmen and bowlers - to India for those spin camps every May, has been a waste. South African cricket needs to completely re-evaluate its strategy around batsmen and how they play spin.
The starting teams picked in this series lacked balance. De Kock had only five bowlers at his disposal in the last two games and there wasn’t enough depth in the batting. Bowling coach Charl Langeveldt said Andile Phehlukwayo’s bowling has gone backwards - his batting has added no value either - while Dwaine Pretorius doesn’t have the weapons to scare opposing batsmen, his own batting is inconsistent and he was poor in the field. It all made Chris Morris look very good. South Africa could do with finding a spot for Jon-Jon Smuts for he does offer an extra bowling option too, although he needs an innings in the Proteas jersey to make him feel like he belongs at the highest level. Phehlukwayo is being given every chance to show he should be the no.1 all-rounder in the team with the ODI series against Australia another opportunity he really must take to stamp his authority on the limited overs team.
South Africa’s bowling was incredibly poor in four out of six T20 matches this summer. The Power Play has been an absolute horror show, with bowlers not knowing how to execute and certainly not being able to apply pressure on the opposition batsmen. Yorkers have been discussed a lot - and there was some improvement in that area by the latter stages of the series against Australia. The short ball is simply not being bowled properly and in too many cases the change-ups have been used so often they now lack a critical surprise factor - also they’re not being bowled properly. That skills camp Boucher spoke about after the series against England can’t come quickly enough.
This is a period where young players are learning, the captain is learning about his players as is the coaching staff. What is apparent is that the rot in South African cricket runs deep. The administrative problems have severely impacted on the quality of the game at lower levels and the lack of planning for what would happen after the retirements of some great players have left massive holes in the national team. Boucher and Co. have been given a very difficult task, they will make mistakes (selection for Wednesday night’s match being one example) but somehow they need to be given the chance to learn. Fixing the problems of the last 24 months is going to take time - and eight weeks is nowhere near enough.