- The Proteas’ 2-0 Test series win over Sri Lanka is undeniably welcome for a team that has been under the pump for some time.
- But there will be reservations that the opposition wasn’t necessarily the sternest and head coach Mark Boucher himself admits there’s still a lot to work on.
- Here are his thoughts on five talking points to emerge from the series.
The Proteas, happily, dispelled some of the gloom that had suffocated the local game over the past few months by claiming a 2-0 Test series whitewash over Sri Lanka.
It’s a creditable showing given their own challenges in terms of poor previous form, the continued battle to fill the voids left by a raft of retirements and the consequent question marks over depth in that regard.
South Africa probably didn’t face the sternest opposition as the visitors were hit by a freakish number of injuries, which notably made the home side’s batting in the first Test in Centurion seem more potent than it would’ve been had the Islanders been able to call on a full-strength attack.
Yet, as head coach, Mark Boucher, noted, this result could be the start of better days for the team.
Here are some of his thoughts on some of the key takeaways from the series.
There are still various areas to work on ahead of an intriguing and possibly tough tour to Pakistan…
From a technical perspective, our batsmen can always keep working. We’re going into different conditions later this month. I thought the batters’ techniques were quite solid on tough wickets – if the bowlers got deliveries in the right areas, it was always going to be difficult.
Bowling wise we’re a young group. It’s about keeping things nice and simple, trying to establish a new DNA that we can impose on the bowlers and enabling us to get the best out of them in any conditions we play in. By no means are we a finished product, there’s still a lot of hard work to be done and the guys understand that.
We’re going to make mistakes along the way, but as long as we keep learning from them, we’re going in the right direction.
The Proteas learn the value of partnerships, when batting and bowling…
That’s the key to building a bit of pressure on the opposition. There was one very good and defining batting partnership at the Wanderers (a record 184-run stand between Dean Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen) and a few good ones in Centurion. Same with the bowling.
The batters realised that coming out to the crease meant they had to keep up the intensity and maintain a positive mindset because one always felt there was one delivery that probably had your name on it. And if we got into a situation where we created some sort of partnership, we had to drive that advantage home. That’s exactly what happened.
The collapse (at the Wanderers) wasn’t ideal, but I do think that the Sri Lankans got the ball to swing and get bounce. If you’re a bowler, there’s always something in it for you if you get it in the right place.
Lutho Sipamla vividly illustrates a temperament for Test cricket…
It was difficult to judge Lutho on his first day of Test cricket – there are so many butterflies and nerves and certain people handle those feelings in different ways. He’s very young and he’s probably never felt like that before, especially because Test cricket means such a lot to him.
That’s a good sign for me, when a guy is so passionate about playing for his country, especially for a Test match. He is one of the pluses for me. From where he started to where he is now, he has learnt a hell of a lot in the last two games. It’s one thing cleaning the tail up but the areas that he was hitting, always asking questions, with some decent pace as well (illustrated how he kept improving).
As did his fellow 22-year-old team-mate, Wiaan Mulder…
We didn’t really see the batting side of Wiaan, but he’s a very good batsman who could go into the top six. But he was fantastic for us with the ball, he’s there to make breakthroughs and it’s great to have that all-round option.
Wiaan is still very young, but the talent is obviously there. And he has a great attitude, he’s so keen to learn and hopefully he can now stay on the park because I see a great future for him.
Dean Elgar proves he’s the lynchpin of the Proteas batting order…
If you look at the conditions our batters have had to face over the last period, it’s been tough, especially as an opener. So I’m really happy that Dean’s in good form. Technically, he’s looking very good.
He’s been nice and aggressive as well, which is something we have spoken about as a team. There’s nothing better than when a senior player takes those words from the team on board and runs with it, especially at the top of the order.
He’ll feel really good about where his game is at the moment and I’m very happy with where he is.
– Compiled by Heinz Schenk