Just over two months of cricket has concluded and safe to say it has been a successful one for South Africa. Being a world cup year, the focus of course will be on the ODI team. But let us start where it began this summer, with the test series.
Test Series Review
(Photo Credit: @officialcsa)
Any wise person wouldn’t put their money against South Africa in a test series against a sub continent team in our own home conditions. It was exactly that in the end, too easy for the proteas; a comprehensive whitewash. Nothing less was expected than utter dominance and that’s what the Proteas did. There had been talk on how Pakistan has improved as a test side but it was always gonna be a challenge coming to South Africa. Looking at the Pakistan team, the batting was just too poor and that was always going to be their downfall. They really struggled with the short ball and it was kind of disappointing to watch because it has been a consistent theme. There has been positives for them in terms of the bowling which was a solid unit that brought the fight to the Proteas batsmen. It was not all gloomy for the batsmen, some positives to take in Babar Azam who scored freely, actually in all formats and Shan Masood who applied himself to end up being amongst the leading run scorers.
There were quite alot of things to look at with the proteas, mainly the batting. We know the huge void left by Ab De Villiers and questions as to who will put their hand up. Safe to say it was a collective effort and a decent performance by the batsmen. Markram showed his talent, Amla showed his resilience and signs of being back to form, Faf was there when needed with a magnificent hundred at Newlands, Bavuma ever so reliable when the team was in trouble and De Kock showed his attacking prowess with a brilliant hundred at Wanderers. The only concern is Theunis De Bruyn who looked out of sorts. Though personally I think it’s nothing to panic about as he is one for the future. There was debut for young Hamza who showed glimpses of what he can do and also like TDB he is one for the future. Elgar had a disappointing series but he is a main stay in the side till further notice.
(Photo credit: @supersporttv)(A regular sight with Olivier celebrating a wicket)
The bowling was the one whom where always gonna do the damage and oh yes they did. Majority of series it was a quartet pace attack with Duane Olivier “The Enforcer” doing most of the damage with 24 wickets to end up as the man of the series and leading wicket taker. The Pakistani batsmen just couldn’t cope with his pace and bouncers. Good to see Dale Steyn get to be the all time leading wicket taker for South Africa surpassing the great Shaun Pollock. Also seeing Dale Steyn play an entire series with no injury concern was good. Not much to say about Rabada and Philander who just prove to be consistent and world class time and again. To sum it up it was a brilliant performance by the proteas and there is young good players to take this test side forward
(Photo credit: @officialcsa)
Another series victory for the proteas but this time around a close affair with South Africa winning 3-2. This is where the main focus is on as it is a world cup year. I thought we would get an idea of the team setup would look like but there is no idea on how the proteas ODI side is supposed to look like nor did they reveal so. It’s a mess if you were to ask me. We are not sure if it is one all rounder they want or two or even three as they played three in the last match. The top 6 was chopped and changed all series long. The only stability we can see is the opening pair of Amla and De Kock, and Steyn, Rabada and Tahir forming part of the bowling and Shamsi as back up to Tahir.
(Photo credit: @Rassie72)
The main positive to take from the series has to be Rassie Van Der Dussen who seems to have cemented his place in the world cup squad. He has started his international cricket brilliantly with 3 half centuries including two not outs. Another positive is Andile Phehlukwayo who seems to be the main all rounder in the side. He proved again to be reliable with the bat and ball, especially in the death overs. The fact that we won the series was also a positive in itself.
We expected Pakistan to put a better test for us in the ODI series and they did so, giving us necessary preparation for the World Cup.
The negatives from the series for me has to be David Miller. For a man who has played more than a hundred matches to yet cement his place is worrying. He blows hot and cold too often. If he doesn’t put in a consistent performance next couple of matches he might not make the squad. So positions 3 and 6 are still up for grabs on the batting line up and it seems it’s Reeza, Miller, JP and Markram to fight it out. The bowling once again looks more balanced and should be even more so when Ngidi returns. There’s still a long way to go before we ready to the World Cup, never mind being in a position to compete for the trophy. At least no expectations this time around where we set ourselves up for disappointment.
(Photo credit: @officialcsa)
Finally the tour was concluded with the T20 series which South Africa won 2-1 to make it a whitewash across all formats. I would say this was an opportunity to rest the main players, give other players a chance and slight opportunity to raise their hands for the World Cup. It was good to see Rassie carry his form to the shortest format which actually was the one that opened the door for him through the MSLT20 league. A debut for the 20year Sipamla was good to see also and the kid held his own with some decent performances.
Overall a good summer of cricket played within the spirit of the game and some exciting prospects on the horizon.
We have Sri Lanka coming up for the next month and a half. Should provide more tests for South Africa in terms of preparations for the world cup. I expect an easy win in the test series and also for us to have a picture of how our World Cup team will look like after the ODI series.