Proteas

5 takeaways from an Indian summer that surpassed ALL expectations

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Temba Bavuma and the Proteas celebrate in Paarl (Gallo)
Temba Bavuma and the Proteas celebrate in Paarl (Gallo)
  • In what was supposed to be a summer of whitewashes, South Africa came out on the other side in beating India in both formats.
  • They won the Test series 2-1 after losing the first Test and won the ODI series 3-0.
  • South Africa's success has left India with a lot of head-scratching, but SA also has an off-the-field storm that's brewing.

South Africa was not expected to beat India in the Test and ODI series, but yet they did with some grit.

The cricket was far from pretty and storms off-the-field refused to dissipate, but the Proteas have found a way to be calm in the chaos.

Here are five takeaways from what has been an enjoyable summer of cricket where India fulfilled their touring arrangements:

Dean and Temba lead by example

For contrasting players, it's like Dean Elgar and Temba Bavuma read from the same leadership manual.

While the tactical and mental aspects of the cricket leadership are still being developed, let the bat do the talking.

As batting captains, that's probably the easiest thing to do, but against India's excellent bowling, the walking needed to be done before the talking.

Elgar's 77 in the fourth innings of the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion gave SA hope that India's bowling could be dealt with.

The 96* at the Wanderers turned the embers into a fire that India couldn't extinguish. In between that, Bavuma contributed timely 50s and was unbeaten in both fourth-innings chases.

Bavuma converted the 50s into an ODI ton of the highest class in the first ODI and marshaled his bowling resources well in the inhospitably hot conditions in Paarl and Cape Town.

The Proteas indeed have on-field leaders who can do the business.

South Africa's batting still needs fixing

That South Africa went through six Test innings without a Test ton does remain a problem. Yes, the pitches were challenging and so was the bowling, but the muscle memory needs to be developed regardless.

KL Rahul indeed made the biggest individual score of the series in what was at the time, the kindest batting conditions of the series, but India always gave off the impression that they had a batter who had a big score in them.

With Quinton de Kock, who was one of three batters who made a 100 in 2021, retired, the tons have to come from somewhere.

That onus will now lie on Rassie van der Dussen to bat as fluidly in Tests as he does in ODIs while Bavuma just needs to release the mental shackles to cross the three-figure mark.

South Africa's bowling depth has grown

India and Australia have enviable bowling depth and that left watchers wondering whether the Proteas have been left behind.

With the emergence of Marco Jansen, that's not quite the case. Last season, it was Lutho Sipamla who made waves, meaning the bowling conveyor belt is still in working order.

Places are few and far between with Wiaan Mulder bowling far better than he's batted, while Anrich Nortje is expected to settle back into the team when he returns from injury.

Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada are in fine form and Duanne Olivier should get faster, better and bowl fuller as the season progresses.

Either way, the Proteas are in a good space bowling-wise.

The Aiden Markram conundrum

That Aiden Markram can bat isn't in debate. It's the issue of his current form, which isn't great, leading to questions about his ability at the highest level.

This time last year, he was the only batter who was able to deal with Pakistan's bowling, but after that mighty series, his form waned very quickly.

He was the top run-scorer in the domestic four-day competition, which means he's with no peer in his berth.

However, that credit is wearing thin with SJ Erwee and Pieter Malan knocking hard on the door.

Is Mark Boucher a good coach?

The numbers for this series don't lie. The bare-bones will say Mark Boucher has succeeded where Justin Langer (twice) and Craig Silverwood have failed in beating India.

However, the off-the-field issues are making his position untenable. The Paul Adams 'Brownshit' matter from the Cricket for Social Justice and Nation-building hearings is one thing.

The manner with which, as the charge sheet for his disciplinary hearing explains, he dealt with the Black Lives Matters conversations where he delegated the responsibility of speaking to players of colour to the black coach in Enoch Nkwe and team manager Khomotso 'Volvo' Masubulele is rather disgusting.

That action, if proven, effectively rubbishes his apology with regards to the Adams matter and while coaching is about results, optics of how an individual navigates South Africa's tense political climate also speak to an individual's maturity.

Being a coach isn't just about discussing tactics or driving players to the stadium, but, especially in South Africa, they need to be able to understand the social factors that drive the country.

 

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