REALLY POOR FROM ELGAR
With so much on the line, and as a senior player in the team, I thought Dean Elgar’s decision to flick at a ball down the leg side was very poor. Surely someone with his experience should know better than that? The result was that it immediately put South Africa on the back foot in a situation where they desperately needed to gain some early confidence after the poor run that they have had. It also meant that Zubayr Hamza had to come in and face the second ball of the test match. Elgar can be a frustrating player sometimes … he shows remarkable fight one day and really sloppy judgement the next.
HAMZA IS THE REAL DEAL
Many will say that the jury is still out and it’s still way too early to start hailing a player at the beginning of their career. Fair enough. I will say though that I was extremely impressed by his composure … coming in so early and under some serious pressure. His shot selection was outstanding, he showed great patience at the right times and has fantastic balance and technique. It was really unfortunate that he lost his wicket before at least making a half century which would have been thoroughly deserved. The good news is that he has a big future and needs to be backed. He really could be the solution to the Proteas’ troublesome no.3 slot.
MARKRAM NEEDS TO BE MORE SELECTIVE
While Aiden Markram is a talented and aggressive shot maker, he needs to learn to be more selective at times. How many times does he go out in the early 20s? He does all the hard yards and looks like breaking out to a big score but inexplicably gives his wicket away. This is a major weakness of his – whether it is a strategy issue or a mental/concentration problem – and he needs to sort it out. Perhaps Graeme Smith or Jacques Kallis can give him some counsel about building an innings.
VAN DER DUSSEN IS THE ANSWER AT NO.5
Ok, Rassie van der Dussen only scored 6 runs on his test debut so you may be justified in asking what was in my Christmas pudding … but I am convinced that with a bit of patience, Rassie will turn out to be the rock at no.5 that South Africa has been missing. He really looks organised and composed at the crease. He doesn’t look like he is hurried or nervous and he has a very solid technique. He has shown in the high-pressure one-day arena that he has nerves of steel. You just can’t buy that. Please give him plenty of time … he will prove to be gold.
THERE IS A LONG WAY TO GO
South Africa were a bit lucky at times against a tired-looking England bowling line up. Countless balls were edged past the slips to the boundary, yet England showed their experience by not dropping their heads (apart from the young Jofra Archer) and continuing to plug away. To be honest the pitch was there for the taking and against that under-the-weather attack, South Africa really should have done better. The openers giving away their wickets really put the team on the back foot and from there it was always going to be an uphill struggle. In typical South African fashion we managed to eke out a respectable total, but on the whole it was a sub-par performance. That said, it’s early days with the new management in place and the make up of the team does look a bit more balanced than it has in the recent past.