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Contrary to the previous story about the Aussies, South Africa’s tale is one of sterling success on 30 December 2008 to shocking defeat on 10 March 2009. In a series that promised so much for the Proteas – defeating the Aussies in consecutive test series, claiming the mantle of no 1 test nation in the world and putting on a show in front of their home fans, it was a major disappointment to all South Africans.
The Proteas have clearly performed below expectations and this is attributable to a number of factors. Certainly the loss of two coin tosses didn’t help them but this can’t be attributed to their second test defeat as they only had 352 runs to chase for a first innings lead. What has been most disappointing with their batting was the inability of their frontline batsman to step up when called upon.
Neil McKenzie was ordinary and should have been replaced with Ashwell Prince (regular vice-captain) at the commencement of the series. Now McKenzie makes way for Prince in the third test and in being recalled to the side, Prince is also elevated to captain in Smith’s absence for the third test. Strange stuff!!! To make things appear more bizarre, the selectors turned around 48 hours after Prince’s announcement as captain to do a backflip and announce that Jacques Kallis would take the reins for this encounter. Hashim Amla continually got starts, as he did in Australia, but could never get past 60 runs. Kallis scored a 93 but for a player averaging close to 55 runs per innings, was clearly an underperformer.
The only two innings of notable standard were A B DeVilliers sensational 104 not out in a team total of 220 in the first test and J P Duminy’s 73 not out in a team total of 138 in the second test. Both of these innings demonstrate the lack of performers within the side.
Graeme Smith’s finger injury in the second test certainly didn’t help their cause. However in saying that, there should have been other willing contributors with the bat to make up for Smith’s absence in that encounter.
The bowling of the South Africans was also unspectacular and far from the fearsome outfit that trodded the Australian pitches a few months ago. Morne Morkel was erratic and unreliable and Paul Harris didn’t have many answers to the likes of Hughes and North. It clearly demonstrated the reliance on Dale Steyn to provide the wicket at their time of need.
Going into the third test, South Africa will be without Smith who is injured and have omitted McKenzie and Morkel. Ashwell Prince will open the batting despite normally being at number 5. Imraan Khan, the top scoring batsman in the South African first class competition, who incidently scored 100 against the Aussies for the Presidents XI in the tour opener, joins the squad and Prince in opening the bat. Albie Morkel will replace his brother Morne though Wayne Parnell has also been added to the squad.
South Africa needs to finish the series on a high to make up for their ordinary efforts over the first two tests. At this moment in time, 30 December 2008 seems like a distant memory. It’s time for Jacques Kallis and co to recapture their summer of glory.
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