South Africa should have crushed and not just beaten Australia

2012-12-07 00:00

AS dominating as the Perth Test win was, I can’t shake off the feeling that a whitewash was in the offing.

Beating an Australian side by 250-plus runs is no mean feat. Rebuilding the Aussies may be, and still a formidable force at home, but the Proteas are so much better. I cannot see Michael Clarke’s men being as feeble as the troops Allan Border presided over between 1984 and 1987. But bereft of experience and quality, especially with the retirement of Ricky Ponting, Clarke finds himself in a similar position: not a lot of talent in the Australian first-class system put up their hands. More of the big runs of Adelaide and Brisbane will be needed, and under more duress.

Clarke disappeared in the last Ashes and in Perth when bowlers wised up to his ways. There may not be a quartet of West Indian fast bowlers to worry, but, as in that era, there is a seriously good English side lurking in the cricket ocean.

To be precise, he will be sick of them come the end of next year after 10 consecutive clashes.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but I expected the Proteas to put a decisive result past a side that were the bane of their existence in the middle of the noughties.

Their ability to fight back from the precipice added an edge that I frankly did not think existed.

I had my doubts about Francois du Plessis because of the big name he made for himself in limited-overs domestic cricket, but he also had 78 first-class matches under his belt. The steel that was so missing had been provided and it would have been interesting to see him bat with JP Duminy. Enough with hypotheses, though.

The England series gave a clue as to how ruthless the Proteas can be when they are given a sniff.

There were times when England were given opportunities that they just could not take advantage of to put the better side away. Same case with Australia, for when they walked into war on the last day in Adelaide, they wore sneakers and carried knives instead of jackboots and bayonets. Advantage was ceded, and as in 1993, after an Adelaide disappointment when Tim May and Craig McDermott could not find that tying run, a routine Perth thrashing was handed out, costing the curator his job.

This defeat was not on that scale, nor was it seismic as it was expected, but the margin should have been executed.

As they showed when they were here last year, Australia are a naturally aggressive breed whose match-saving instincts are not as fine-tuned. If anything, they have Mark Taylor to blame for that as “draw” did not exist is his lexicon.

Clarke could have learnt from the Adelaide stalemate, but six-and-a-half sessions was beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Then again, the choice of ground, Perth having only known two draws in 18 years, had the dice loaded against Clarke.

When Australia were the best in the world, they made it a point to crush, not beat sides. They often made examples of sides to how whitewashes should be handed out.

The Proteas should have seen to it they thrashed Australia and send a message that they mean business. They did in not losing a series on the road in six years, but the manner has not been befitting of that of a number one side.

Graeme Smith has now done what only Clive Lloyd has done in besting Australia and England in their back yards twice on consecutive tours. I appreciate the difficulty of winning away from home, but there must be some swagger attached to how they go about their business. Maybe I immerse myself too much in West Indian history.

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