Sri Lanka vs South Africa Tour Review: What Can The Proteas Learn?

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Sri Lanka vs South Africa Tour Review: What Can The Proteas Learn?

A humiliating Test series defeat was confirmed earlier today, as the Proteas succumbed to another heavy defeat to the hosts, Sri Lanka, in Colombo.

The margin of defeat, by 188 runs, was only slightly better than the 278 run battering they received in Galle.

The reasons for these results are obvious and plentiful. Firstly, the batting was not up to international standard. Not in application, technique or skill. This is borne out by the fact that there was only one century and one half century by South Africans, and both came this morning, in a hopeless cause. For a side as talented as South Africa, its quite obviously unacceptable. Players like Aiden Markram and Quinton De Kock, looked lost against the spinners in these conditions. In the formers case, this was his first Asian tour, so it should be banked as a learning curve. In the case of De Kock, the willingness to stick around was missing.

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There have got to be questions asked of the batting coach, Dale Benkenstein. There did not seem to be any coherent plans. The Sri Lankan spinners are good, zero doubt. But they’re hardly Murali, are they? Rangana Herath? Orthodox left arm spinner. Dilruwan Perera? Orthodox right arm off spin. Akila Dananjaya? Orthodox right arm off spin. Where’s the mystery? There was no plan. When defending, it was with hard hands, reaching for the ball, getting caught at slip, leg slip, short leg. Try to attack, come charging up the wicket, totally misread length and flight, and get stumped by yards. Try sweeping, pick the wrong lengths, and get caught plumb in front. It was car crash cricket, zero fun to watch, but something you could not take your eyes off of.

Those were the negatives. Contrary to popular belief, for my mind, there were positives. The bowling was more than decent. Dale Steyn didn’t pickup as many wickets as he usually does, but he bowled problem free in trying conditions, and it looks like his injury troubles are gone. Keshav Maharaj picked up the best figures by a South African since readmission, 9-129 in Colombo. Kagiso Rabada bowled with pace and aggression. Theunis De Bruyn got his maiden Test century, and his partnership with Temba Bavuma, showed character and fight.I’m not to disheartened overall. The trend in modern cricket has been for sides to be poor away from home. Nobody travels well anymore, so it’s hardly a catastrophe. There’s a feeling as well, that the focus has shifted to white ball cricket with the World Cup less than a year away.

Questions need to be asked yes. Introspection is needed. But let’s not forget that this same side battered India and Australia not to long ago.

Player Ratings:

Dean Elgar: Did not seem his usual, obstinate self. Gave his wicket away numerous times, with poor shot selection. 5
Aiden Markram: First Asian tour, looked unsure of how to go about compiling an innings in these conditions. Plays with hard hands. Learning curve banked. 3
Hashim Amla: Looked a shadow of the man who scores heavily in Asia. Prodded unconvincingly at the ball, and coordination seemed out of sorts. Could the end be nigh? 3
Faf du Plessis: one good innings of 48, but seemed like a wicket destined to fall at any point. Struggled with the angles created by Herath. Captaincy, especially when the tail was in, was poor. 4
Temba Bavuma: Fighting knock today, and actually looked decent against the spin. Needs to continue getting scores to totally quash talk of him losing his place. 5
Theunis De Bruyn: Superb hundred, showed plenty of skill and character. Announced his arrival as a test player. Could be career making innings. 7
Quinton De Kock: Batting was poor. Lacked application and skill, which is disappointing from someone as talented as he is. Wicket keeping was excellent though, as it usually is. 5
Dale Steyn: Injury free, bowled with decent pace, and drew level with Shaun Pollock as all time South African wicket taker. 6
Keshav Maharaj: Bowled with superb control, skill and accuracy. Endurance for long spells was superb. 16 wickets in the series on his first trip to Asia. 8
Kagiso Rabada: Pace, aggression, with little reward. Could have mixed things up a bit more, but never stopped trying. 5
Tabraiz Shamsi: Bowled well in Galle. Strike bowler, but for me, lacks the control to be a test match bowler. 5
Lungi Ngidi: As with Markram, first Asian tour, so bank as a learning curve. Struggled with his lengths. 5
Vernon Philander: zero impact in Galle, right decision was made to leave him out in Colombo. No sense in putting unnecessary miles in his legs at his age. 3

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