Plain and sim­ple: SA were pa­thetic

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

Eng­land 362 and 243 South Africa 226 and 202

Eng­land won by 177 runs; Eng­land won the se­ries 3-1

DE­SPITE all that talk of not hav­ing one foot on the plane, that’s ex­actly where the minds of the South African play­ers seemed to be yes­ter­day.

Ex­cept for a two hour pe­riod when Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla were to­gether be­tween lunch and tea, South Africa showed lit­tle stom­ach for this fight – it was a pa­thetic ca­pit­u­la­tion.

It has been – the sec­ond Test at Trent Bridge aside – a very poor se­ries for SA and shows that the cracks which had been pa­pered over in Aus­tralia, New Zealand and against Sri Lanka, now re­quired proper fix­ing.

Dean El­gar needs a new open­ing part­ner. There needs to be some clar­ity over the mid­dle order and Ver­non Phi­lan­der’s fit­ness needs to be sorted out so that he can ex­tend his ca­reer and not just play half of a se­ries at full tilt.

AB de Vil­liers, Morne Morkel and per­haps even JP Du­miny, need some clar­ity to be pro­vided over their fu­tures, and of course the big ques­tion mark re­lates to the new coach – who will have a hell of a lot on his plate when he steps into the job, hope­fully later this month.

In terms of this se­ries, South Africa, with the ex­cep­tion of Quin­ton de Kock’s first in­nings at Trent Bridge, never dom­i­nated Eng­land’s bowl­ing. It al­ways felt like they were too timid to take on an ad­mit­tedly strong at­tack. While Heino Kuhn’s se­lec­tion was jus­ti­fied, given his per­for­mances in do­mes­tic cricket and then for the SA ‘A’ side – who toured here in May, he was ul­ti­mately out of his depth against An­der­son, Broad and Stokes.

Hashim Amla lacks the con­sis­tency of years passed, flick­er­ing only briefly in this se­ries and while it’s im­por­tant he re­mains while this side is still in tran­si­tion, he needs to find the kind of form that made him one of the world’s best play­ers in 2012. Of course, five years later that will be a very hard ask.

And then the likes of Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma and De Kock now need to step to the fore and score more heav­ily and in the case of Du Plessis and Bavuma add a tempo that puts pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion bowlers.

It was a wor­ry­ing statis­tic that the last time South Africa’s bowlers were able to put their feet up for an en­tire day, was the first day of the sec­ond Test at Trent Bridge.

The bowlers were re­mark­ably con­sis­tent over the course of the se­ries – they had them­selves to blame for the no-balls at Lord’s – but there was lit­tle they could do about dropped catches, there and then in the fourth Test here.

They would also be right to ques­tion their cap­tain’s tac­tics on the sec­ond morn­ing of the fi­nal Test when Jonny Bairstow was al­lowed to take con­trol of the match, and turn it in Eng­land’s favour.

Morkel was gutsy through­out, claim­ing 19 wick­ets, while there was not enough of Phi­lan­der in con­di­tions that suited him. There are con­cerns about his mind­set and the new coach will have to add that to the list of ar­eas that re­quire fix­ing.

Ke­shav Ma­haraj has come in leaps and bounds in this se­ries and has quickly es­tab­lished him­self as a vi­tal mem­ber of the squad, pro­vid­ing con­trol while his skill and guile has made him a wicket tak­ing threat as well.

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