South Africa’s tour of Australia was viewed with positivity by the punditry, this one included, for reasons advocated here.
I myself predicted a 2-1 victory for South Africa, but that has already been blown out the water following the drawn first Test at the Gabba where the Australians had the better of it. South Africa, from a position of strength, faded with the bat by making 450 all out and then from 40/3, allowed Australia to rack up a mammoth 565/5, with Michael Clarke making 259 not out.
Considering how much talk had centred around the bowling attacks of the two sides before the series, the first Test on a pitch that nearly proved as lifeless as a cadaver was disappointing. However, it was the 20 no balls bowled between Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and debutant Rory Kleinveldt (who had an absolute nightmare) that proved extremely galling, with Morkel once again taking wickets with no balls, including centurions Clarke and Ed Cowan.
It’s unacceptable at international level to bowl so many wasted deliveries, and the problem needs to be sorted out as soon as possible, especially with Morkel, considering Philander’s relative clean record up to this point. Kleinveldt won’t get another opportunity this tour, so there is a less of concern regarding where his front foot lands as his place will be taken by spinner Imran Tahir.
The players have taken some time off before regrouping a few days ahead of the Adelaide Test on November 22. Hopefully that time will be used by the players to reflect where it went wrong, how they can improve, and show why they are the number one Test team in the world. South Africa, with the exception of Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen, under performed and were out classed. Not picking a spinner also proved fruitless, though the injury to JP Duminy, an extremely unfortunate one, could not have been for seen.
If the Proteas play like they did at the Gabba, they won’t be number one for long, because if Australia beat South Africa outright, they become world number ones again. Jacques Rudolph continues to under perform at number six, and while Faf du Plessis looks set to get his debut at seven, some serious consideration should be given to dropping Rudolph and picking the specialist wicketkeeper Thami Tsolikele so AB de Villiers can do what he does best, and that’s score runs.
However, the Proteas are unlikely to change their formula too much, and while one bad performance isn’t the end of the world, it should not be viewed other than what it was: a warning