Management needs to take responsibility for poor form, says Graeme Smith
South Africa suffered their second successive series defeat and former captain Graeme Smith is of the opinion that the problem lies beyond the field and in the management of the national team. He spoke to the television channel SuperSport and expressed his views saying that the blame for the defeat is to be shared not only by the players but also by the coaching staff and senior officers.
He said, "The players have to take responsibility for their performances, there's no doubt about that, but the management do too. They haven't quite come into the equation of late. At the end the day the performances of the Test team for the last year haven't been good enough, so you have to ask questions of everybody.”
He also said that it is the duty of the management to direct the team to the right path, but in this case, he wasn’t sure how well that was happening.
"How is management getting the best out of them, how are they preparing them, are they directed in the right way, do they need to be firmer, do they need to be softer? I don't know."
Need for a batting consultant
Smith had worked with the South African batsmen in the nets for a while before the New Year’s Test began and reports suggested that he might take up the role of a batting consultant.
Unfortunately, some prior commitments as a commentator for Test Match Special and SuperSport has forced Smith to stay away from the dressing room of the South African team thus leaving the national team without a batting coach.
Russell Domingo was appointed as the head coach of the team and he had made use of Gary Kirsten and Mike Hussey to help the batting department. Kirsten was there on the basis of a 50-days-a-year deal all through 2014 and Hussey helped out by being a part of the support staff during the 2015 World Cup and for a short while before the first test against India in November. For the rest of the test series they were without a batting expert and lost 3-0 to India.
South Africa had a highest innings total of 214 in India, they had a lowest of 79 runs in Nagpur and not a single century was scored by them. Smith’s help was asked only after he criticised them on air.
Smith’s short-term association with the team was not of much help. They showed some resistance at Newlands where they scored 627 for 7 against England, but at the Wanderers, they were bowled out for 83 runs.
Negativity around the team
South Africa last beat West Indies in January 2014 and hasn’t won a Test match since.
Some of the crucial pacers are injured, there has been a mid-season change of captainship apart from several other issues.
"Some of the decision-making around the space looks a bit worrisome for me. The team seems a bit flat. Some of the messages coming out in the press conferences don't seem positive and it's coming from senior players," says Smith.
"You're in a big series and there is a lot of negativity among your senior players. It looks like someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and say, 'Listen guys, let's wake up and let's pull our finger out and let's go and play some Test cricket'."
AB de Villiers seems to bereft of inspiration of late as reports suggested that he might be retire early. This has added to the worries of the South African team and has done much to hurt their confidence.