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Proteas: all is not lost

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Some of South Africa’s big names will be back, including Du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Vernon Philander

Picture: BackpagePix

THE Proteas’ problems against India recently need to be seen in context. Understanding that context, however, still doesn’t excuse some performances in which some players, according to the national team’s coach, Ottis Gibson showed no stomach for the fight.

For that is the least that South Africa’s supporters expect, that the players will fight for the badge – and there was little evidence of that particularly in the last two One-Day Internationals. India deserve a lot of credit. They certainly contained the best bowling unit they’d ever brought to this country and in Virat Kohli have arguably the world’s best batsman.

South Africa’s problems in the “white ball” formats stemmed from the new coach and the panel of selectors wanting to run the rule over as many players as possible with an eye on the World Cup next year. With players being rotated, some being injured and others out of form, it was always going to be difficult to establish rhythm and by extension consistency.

By almost “sacrificing” the series against India, Gibson, skipper Faf du Plessis, who missed five of the six ODIs with a fractured finger, and the national selectors, are looking at the bigger picture. They will have a clearer idea who can hack it in the high pressure atmosphere of a World Cup.

The experimenting will continue through the One-Day series in Sri Lanka later this year according to the chair of the national selection panel, Linda Zondi. And given South Africa’s dreary record at World Cups, South Africans may gradually grow to accept losing now, if in the long term it means it will help the team at the World Cup in England next year.

On the other hand, however, it won’t have done many of the younger players’ confidence much good to have been involved in losing a series so badly as was the case against India, which will leave Gibson and Du Plessis with a lot of work to do over the next year as they seek to build a cohesive unit ahead of the World Cup.

What effect will all of this have on the Test series against Australia, starting in Durban today? None.

It is a different format. Some of South Africa’s big names will be back, including Du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Vernon Philander.

There is a lot to play for in the series. Since the country’s return from international sporting isolation, South Africa have failed to beat the Australians in a Test series on home soil. Morne Morkel announced on Monday this series would be his last in a South African shirt. In the last 10 years series’s between the two teams, South Africa has provided some of the most exciting cricket played anywhere – so there’s plenty to motivate the home team over the next month.