South Africa vs England 2015-16: Where does the South African team go from here?
Although South Africa won the ODI series against England, they still have questions to answer, and issues to address.
Keeping the World Cup records aside, South Africa has always been a team that has given tough competition to oppositions in all the formats.
Whether it was their team in 1992 that went on to reach the World Cup semis on their return to international cricket after an eternity or their team in 2015 that looked all set to win the ODI World Cup title until their campaign was stalled by a spirited Kiwi team, the Proteas have always been a top class cricket team.
Though, presently, the Proteas find themselves in a strange quandary. Their enviable streak of being unbeaten in foreign conditions for nine years in Tests has been broken by India and to add salt to the wound, England defeated them in tests in their home conditions.
Their young guns also suffered a setback as they were defeated by Namibia in the U-19 World Cup and eventually crashed out of the competition in the group stage. It’s time for an afterthought in the Proteas setup, it’s time for them to ponder over their future by analyzing their present.
Test team needs time to rebuild
The South African Test team has gone through a flurry of changes, especially in the batting department in the last few years. Graeme Smith, the iconic leader of the Proteas side, has hung up his boots, Alviro Pietersen has also announced his retirement and the biggest retirement that has affected the South African cricket is the one of Jacques Kallis, arguably the best all-rounder the world has seen after Sir Gary Sobers.
With Duminy struggling as a Test batsman and Faf du Plessis not being in the same form as he was when he started his Test career, Proteas only have Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers as their established Test batsman.
A young batting lineup needs some time to establish itself at the international level and they should be given the time to settle down and failures should not worry the Proteas fan too much.
Future looks bright for limited-overs side
Even though South Africa are struggling in the longest format, they are a team to reckon with in the shorter formats.
Defeating India in their home conditions is no easy feat and the Proteas did that in the ODI series last year. They also defeated England in the ODI series 3-2, coming from behind after trailing 2-0.
There is a good mix of youngsters and experienced players in their ODI and T20 teams that makes them a strong limited overs team and it looks like their future in shorter formats is pretty secure.
Perhaps the best way for the South African team to take the attention away from its test performances would be to win, or at least, reach the semis of the upcoming T20 World Cup. A decent performance in the T20 World Cup will give them the buffer of a few failures in the test arena.
A good allrounder can solve various problems
South Africa has always been a nation that has produced allrounders, but at present, it seems like that their battery has been exhausted. One must keep in mind though that replacing Jacques Kallis is no mean feat and thus expectations from a South African allrounder have to tone down a bit.
The best all-rounders that South Africa have at present are David Wiese and Chris Morris. Wiese looks more like a bits and pieces cricketer, and Morris more a bowler who can occasionally win a match with his bat.
Proteas will do well to invest in allrounders in their first class setup. Maybe not Kallis, but even a subdued version of him will also do the job for them.
Enough young talent to promise a bright future
Kagiso Rabada is arguably the best young bowler in the world at present and Quinton de Kock is right up there with the best young batsman in the world. The South African queue of promising young talent doesn’t end here.
The diminutive Temba Bavuma is a bright young talent, and David Miller and Rilee Rossouw have shown signs of becoming brilliant limited overs batsman. Proteas have no dearth of talent in the batting department.
Dane Piedt seems to be a promising off-spinner in a land where spinners are as rare as an oasis in a desert.
It is always a positive for a team if good young talent keeps coming through the ranks and same is the case with South Africa. Though their U-19 team performed underwhelmingly in the World Cup but still there are enough youngsters in their setup to invest upon.
Though these are challenging times for South African cricket but the cushion of young talent and the presence of AB de Villiers, Amla, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in their team must keep the Proteas fans to remain optimistic.