IOL Sport writer, Lungani Zama.
You learn the harshest lessons in defeat. Only in defeat.

South Africa were hurting after what happened at Kingsmead, but they will be speechless in Port Elizabeth.

There is no place to hide. You can explain away a one-off slip, especially in this season of balancing priorities.

Had South Africa won the second Test, and levelled the series, a lot of things might have been very different. A lot might have been ignored, left to lie dormant until October, when India are the next opponents in red-ball cricket.

But, after a second, damaging defeat to an unlikely conqueror, there have to be some tough questions asked of South Africa’s plans and preparations for this short, but shambolic series.

Sri Lanka did nothing out of the ordinary in the second Test. The heroics were left in Durban, the sting inflicted there, but the poison going through the system sincerely enough to last through Port Elizabeth.

They simply played solid cricket, and then preyed upon the fragilities of the South African batting card. For the hosts, there were too many players out of form.

And maybe even out of time now.

There are some calls to be made, and the sentimental tendencies of waiting for a major tournament for a natural ending must be avoided.

Sometimes, the umbilical cord must be cut unemotionally, with no ceremony. The game moves on, and teams must move with it  or get left behind.

There are a bunch of young batsmen in the domestic system ready to fight for slots in higher places.

The distraction of the World Cup may well see Test plans and problems cast aside for now, because the showpiece event remains the holy grail of SA cricket.

But, the daily bread has always been their strength in Test cricket. They have now lost four Test matches to Sri Lanka, which is a grim reality.

The white balls will come out now, and all roads lead to England 2019 from here.

But, what happened between Christmas and Sri Lanka’s heist must not be forgotten.

History was made, and South Africa were on the wrong side of it.

That can’t be swept under the cricketing carpet.


Sunday Tribune

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