Proteas: winning theories, failing practice

When all else fails, revert to basics. It sounds simple in theory, but when it comes to application, it becomes a different story altogether.

It is something the Proteas would do well to heed. The Indian team they played is not the best, but it is not the worst either. With the kind of attack they carried, though, they should not have been one to lose sleep over.

In some ways, Shikhar Dhawan’s innings reminded me of Sourav Ganguly’s 144 at the Nairobi Gymkhana Ground where he mowed down a ragged Proteas. Dhawan may be a good batsman, but he’s nowhere near Ganguly’s class or pedigree. Dhawan did hit the ball very hard, but the Proteas allowed him the leeway to do so.

It hurt watching the same pack that hunts relentlessly in test cricket being torn asunder by players who struggle to get into test teams or wouldn’t break into the South African test team. One observation is that the ODI game, with its restrictions, is a great leveller and batsmen who feel so puny in whites grow two metres when there is a change of kit.

One thing the Proteas do well in the test arena is to adjust to the varying situations and conditions. They may have been without the weapons in Morné Morkel and Dale Steyn that allow them to move seamlessly from calamities to positions of safety, but a mark of a quality team is to win with whatever resources they have at hand. Most importantly, the job needs to be approached with a clear mind, which leads to easier execution.

Public expectation of the Proteas at ICC tournaments is at an all time low and it is not about to improve unless they win a trophy. They are at death’s door, and defeat against Pakistan means an early flight home.

Whether they want to avoid that embarrassment is up to them, but if they rock up in yesterday’s shade, the rotten tomato brigade will be waiting.

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