Proteas’ bubble has been burst

2013-10-20 14:00

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Team SA need test match preparation, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

Make no mistake, Graeme Smith’s men were well and truly outplayed in Abu Dhabi, which gives credence to Pakistan’s reputation for ambushing opponents.

Excuses were made about how unprepared the Proteas were, but in the end what was obvious was their inability to execute the basics.

What cannot be denied is that the two-test series phenomenon is catching teams out when it comes to the first test.

South Africa are not the first team, and will not be the last, to underperform in opening tests but it reinforces the fact that teams will struggle, especially when on tour.

It was the first time South Africa had lost a first test on the subcontinent since the innings and 153-run loss against Sri Lanka in 2006.

Former Proteas batsman and SuperSport commentator HD Ackerman said he was surprised by the public’s knee-jerk reaction to this week’s seven-wicket defeat.

But he did acknowledge that preparation will always be questioned when teams lose matches, and Pakistan had to be credited with playing the better cricket in conditions to which they were accustomed.

“When South Africa won 2-0 in England, they were criticised for going to Switzerland. Then they won and there was nothing wrong with the preparation,” said Ackerman.

“As soon as a team loses, people always look at what should be done better. The Proteas could have prepared better, but the bottom line is they should have batted better, which is something the team acknowledged.”

It was the batting that let the Proteas down, with the team unable to cross 250 in both innings.

A simple maxim of subcontinent batting is maximising on the first innings to avoid batting last on a deteriorating wicket.

Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers were the only batsmen who made significant contributions, though Amla only made 118.

Amla was the only batsman who played decent first-class cricket with Surrey in England.

The rest of the players were coming off the Champions League T20 or had played no cricket at all after being given rest periods or recovering from injury.

Ackerman said the rest period needed to be well managed as players needed game time to get back into the groove.

“Cricketers need to play, without doubt. Nothing can replicate the arena of a match. Smith couldn’t play because of an operation and Kallis was rested,” said Ackerman.

“There is no need for the public to jump up and down and ask what’s going on. The Proteas have set excellent standards and, at some stage, the bubble was going to be pricked.”

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