The Proteas first Test triumph under Mark Boucher as team director proved to be a false dawn, but the new management system still needs time to implement changes.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
It would be extremely unfair to expect Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher to address problems that have taken years to develop in the space of a few short weeks.
What needs to be avoided at all costs though is falling into familiar patterns and the offering of trite excuses.
The Proteas may not have mastered Test batting, but they should be given props for the effectiveness of the media training given to players and management.
Kagiso Rabada’s apology to his teammates and fans falls firmly into this category. When asked to address areas of weakness, the Proteas have been very good at the talking while failing to deliver any concrete change.
Judgement of the progress made by the team must be limited to on-field performances and steer clear of intangibles. The cricket-loving public of South Africa are growing weary of being told how good the team are in training and the endless stream of media patter.
International cricket is a results business, and the Proteas need to start winning matches again.
Every international team faces challenges. Barring Zimbabwe, every Test-playing nation plays too much cricket, and every board is struggling to keep the game competitive amidst a sea of options for entertainment.
It doesn’t serve South African cricket to have players and management making frank admissions of their failures without ever addressing the issues at the core of those problems.
South Africa may not have the resources of the big three, but the Proteas should be able to consistently out-perform the likes of Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the West Indies all of whom face steep challenges.
After the series against England, the Proteas play very little Test cricket, but the white-ball formats are also beset by issues and with a T20 World Cup looming Boucher and company need to show they can take this team forward.
While patience remains a virtue for South African cricket, the team’s slide away from the top needs to be halted to maintain the long-term health of the game.