HomeCricketTime to get your act together South Africa

Time to get your act together South Africa

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South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2018

South Africa embarked on the tour to Sri Lanka with one purpose and one purpose alone.
That was to win.
Faf had put it succinctly, “We don’t just want to win in South Africa.”
Perhaps, Faf had no clue what he was up against
Nearly a quarter of a year ago, back home in South Africa, Australia found out they were no match to Faf’s team.
AB was on fire. Morkel was among the wickets.
Rabada chewed at his opponents and Amla along with Markram stuck it out.

Would you blame South Africa for thinking Sri Lanka would be much easier?

Hashim Amla
Hashim Amla was out cheaply in both the innings in the 1st Test (Image: Jersey Peeps)

Meanwhile, at Galle, South Africa seemed toothless and Sri Lanka possessed the bite.
What on earth did we just witness?
73 all out?
Was this even South Africa, appalled fans might have wondered?
Here’s what might have upset the true passionate cricket supporter who still lives the old cliche: I eat cricket, I sleep cricket and, I walk Cricket.

Another Test did not last 5 days.

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What on earth is happening? Did anyone notice, inside 45 days, this was the 4th Test Match that did not last 5 days?
Starting from India versus Afghanistan, Test Cricket seemed in a hurry. The contest- provided, you wanted to call it that- was over in 2 days.
Was this some kind of a joke?
Then came the West Indies versus Sri Lanka Test.
The Windies humbled Lankans, the same side that bit off South Africa at Trinidad in less than 4 days.
Then, just over a week ago, at Antigua, West Indies chewed off Bangladesh inside 3 days.
South Africa added a lacklustre contribution to the spectacle. At Galle, it was clear only one side was having a ball. That wasn’t Faf Du Plessis’ South Africa, it was Lakmal’s Sri Lanka.
But 73 all-out actually exacerbates a series of woes that have galloped the Proteas in last decade.
In case, their most die-hard fans didn’t notice, here’s a potentially upsetting stat.

73 all out isn’t South Africa’s first no-show

Since 2011, South Africa have managed to bowl themselves out under 100 on 4 separate occasions.
A team that is regarded for being a formidable force, anchored by talents like Faf, Amla and, de Kock has managed 96 all out vs Australia at Cape Town in 2011, followed by 83 all out against England at Jo’Burg and, finally- 79 all out against India in 2015.
From Cape Town to Johannesburg to Nagpur and now, finally Galle, South Africa have stitched an itinerary no cricketing team would be willing to undertake.
Does that worry South Africa that of their 4 lowest-scores in Test Cricket, 3 have come in home conditions?
In that regard, 73 all-out at Galle was only but natural.

But it makes no sense to mock a team like South Africa

Rangana Herath
As 17 wickets fell to spinners, South Africa needs to play Rangana Herath with caution (Image: News18.com)

Maybe, there’s sense to do an intense prognosis about where they are at this point in time in the game.
Fans would demand a quick answer- is this Proteas Fire or have the Proteas been set on fire?
Regardless, of how one sees it, their capitulation at Galle underlines several areas for improvement.
Of the 20 wickets that fell, 17 went to spinners.
Does that mean overnight South Africa forgot how to handle spin? Nothing could be more foolish than the presumption.
In case, you followed the manner of dismissals, perhaps, only Faf’s falling seemed a wicket really well earned. Markram danced down the track as if he was meant to do ballet on a turning track.
The result?
The misguided belief that every flighted delivery needs to be hit out of the park.
What was a batsman of Elgar’s ability doing against spin? He’s someone who’s handled both Yadav and Chahal well in the past?
de Kock seems half the player he proved himself to be during his phenomenal run in 2014-15.
Is he the same golden-boy who’s expected to work magic, we don’t know yet?
Faf, however, produced something worth lauding about.

Of their first inning nightmare of 126 all out, their captain contributed 49

South Africa’s captain Faf du Plessis plays a classy shot (Image: The Indian Express)

He proved using feet against spinners and using the depth of the crease aren’t yet discarded practices against spin. At times, just doing the basics right matters.
It’s sad and treacherous that du Plessis ran out of partners in the first innings and hardly got going in the second attempt.
It is about time that Faf and Amla got together and threw some caution to the wind.
It must worry them, more than upsetting them that they lost all wickets to spin in the second innings.
Taking nothing away from Dilruwan Perera and Herath’s sterling performance, on what was clearly a spin-assisting track, they aren’t the most dangerous spinners around.
Shamsi was no match for the duo.
With the two Lankan spinners spinning a web worse than what Spiderman does for his goons, why Lakmal even bowled none knew?

Are Herath and Perera the most menacing turners of the ball?

Perera and Herath
Perera and Herath are menacing at home (Image: Twitter)

How often does Perera snatch wickets or produce bamboozling deliveries, you can gauge from the fact that against a weak opponent called West Indies he got 3 wickets from 4 innings.
Not that other finger spinners don’t struggle abroad, he looks, at best, an average bowler to many cricketing Pundits.
This isn’t to disrespect Dilruwan, who, at 35 is bowling his heart out.

But perhaps that’s how Faf should approach him in the next Test

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2018
Faf du Plesis needs to produce something special in the absence of ABD (Image: Hindustan Times)

If Amla cannot make runs now and Elgar cannot frustrate bowlers then when will they?
South Africa have work to do.
They don’t have to feel terrorized by Lakmal and co.
It’s the spinners on sub-continental pitches they should handle more watchfully.
For starters, they might want to hit Youtube or wherever to take full stock of their own dismissals.
Next, you’d expect them to sink in a core truth. AB De Villiers is no longer around to save them. Is Faf their saviour? Can he lead by example? Good time to prove that is now.

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