Yet Du Plessis remains confident that his team has shown glimpses of greatness and, given time, will bounce back stronger
Despite the crushing 3-1 loss to England in the Test series, South Africa Test captain Faf du Plessis believes that over time his young side will only emerge stronger from this rebuilding phase.
South Africa, who were clinical in the first Test at Centurion, winning by 107 runs, suffered consecutive defeats in the next three game as England overpowered them.
After a huge 191-run loss in the final Test at the Wanderers, Du Plessis, whose own form has come under scrutiny, acknowledged the lack of experience of his largely untested side.
“That’s the reality of where we sit. We’ve put some good things in place with the strong, experienced coaching team. We know that, through time, they will guide players,” he said. “But the experience we are lacking now will also take time.”
Despite former greats Mark Boucher (coach), Jacques Kallis, and Graeme Smith (director of cricket) at the helm, retirements of regular players has left the team unbalanced. The Proteas fielded as many as five debutants in the four-match series with a new-look bowling attack.
Their batting was poor and the lack of solid first-innings scores hurt them in every game.
Yet Du Plessis remains confident that his team has shown glimpses of greatness and, given time, will bounce back stronger.
“There is still a gap in terms of the next tier of bowlers and where they need to get to (compared to) Rabada, Morkel, Philander and Steyn,” he said. “Anrich Nortje had a fantastic series and we always knew he had pace, but to be able to adjust lengths on different pitches and conditions is exactly what we need now.
“We need guys to come into Test cricket and just shine. I think we’ve had nine debutants in eight Test matches . . . and it just shows where we are. We’re a team that will take time.”
Du Plessis, whose scores in the series read 21, 20, 1, 19, 8, 36, 3 and 35, does not want to dwell too much on his personal form.
“I’m sitting here extremely disappointed and I know the coaching staff is disappointed and you guys and the fans should be disappointed, but every team goes through this,” he said.
“It can look and feel quite bad, but there is a lot of talent and I think you’ve seen that a lot of people are trying to get the system right so that in two years’ time we will be the team that we need to be again.”
The white-ball leg of the tour begins next week, with the first ODI in Cape Town on February 4.