Of course they are extremely fortunate to have a player like Ben Stokes at their disposal who adds both aggression and control with the ball
While the lack of quality in South Africa’s batting resources is cause for grave concern, the bowling, despite the loss of Vernon Philander is in reasonable shape.
Retirements have hit the Proteas bowling unit very hard as well, but as the emergence of Anrich Nortjé (pictured) this summer has shown, South Africa’s fast bowling conveyor belt is still in good working order, and with Lungi Ngidi returning to fitness, Kagiso Rabada having had a much-needed break once the Proteas get to the West Indies in July, they’ll have some significant weapons at their disposal.
At domestic level, Lutho Sipamla has shown improvement this season and is currently the leading fast bowler in the Four-Day Series, and even further down the pipeline at Under-19 level, Gerald Coetzee has shown he has a bright future while it is hoped that 18-year-old Lifa Ntanzi, who unfortunately missed the World Cup, can continue to show improvement as he develops both physically and emotionally.
South Africa felt it could at least match England in the bowling stakes even though the tourists had far greater experience, thanks to James Anderson and Stuart Broad and even firepower in the shape of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.
However, they never had enough runs to work with and as a result couldn’t build pressure on England’s younger batsmen. Nortjé, Philander and Rabada were always facing short turnarounds in-between innings, and then especially in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth spent a lot of time in the field.
That meant they weren’t able to be as penetrative as they would have liked and in Nortjé’s case bowled more overs than Faf du Plessis would have wanted him to bowl. It is to Nortjé’s credit, however, that he just kept charging in and his pace never wavered. He was always above 140km/* and crucially as far as Du Plessis was concerned showed excellent consistency as far as line and length were concerned. His 18 wickets at 27.11 were richly deserved.
But he carried a heavy toll, only Keshav Maharaj with 148 bowled more overs than Nortjé’s 125 among all the bowlers in the series and it was no surprise he needed pain killing injections just to get him through the final Test of the series at the Wanderers.
Nortjé will have a much-needed break during the One-Day series but the Proteas’ medical staff will have to closely monitor him.
England taught South Africa the value of having a deep well of quick bowlers from which to choose. They used seven seam bowlers over the course of the series as they dealt with illness and then injuries to Anderson and Archer.
Of course they are extremely fortunate to have a player like Ben Stokes at their disposal who adds both aggression and control with the ball.
Right now South Africa doesn’t have the kind of depth at its disposal that England does. A frontline starting trio of Rabada, Ngidi and Nortjé looks good on paper, but the Proteas will need others like Sipamla, Coetzee and Ntanzi to develop quicker to create a deeper pool of fast bowlers.
Of those given an opportunity in the latter stages of the England series, Beuran Hendricks did well and his left-arm medium pace is an element that will merit more consideration in the future for the variety it provides.
Unfortunately Dane Paterson, unless there are a raft of injuries is unlikely to add to his two Test caps.