To be fair the Proteas have done A LOT right since the new regime took over. Sensible team selections, a new found spirit within the team and a win over England. Frustratingly though there seems to be one small piece of the puzzle that they have bizarrely overlooked, a piece that is so glaringly obvious yet one that has more than once threatened to completely derail all the hard work that the team has put in over the past few weeks.
The slip cordon!
Why on earth does Rassie van der Dussen stand so close to Quinton de Kock when QDK consistently dives right in front of him to take a catch?? Van der Dussen has now dropped three important catches at first slip – admittedly with QDK partially to blame for diving or attempting to dive in front of his line of sight.
In the first inning of the first test, Van der Dussen dropped Joe Denly when he was on 0 and he went on to make a valuable 50. In the second inning he dropped Rory Burns on 10 and he went on to make 84 in a big opening stand that threatened to take the game away from South Africa. It would have been a cruel blow to the Proteas had England won the test from there. The first test was crucial to South Africa’s fragile confidence and it really could have changed things dramatically.
Unfortunately not. In the second test with QDK and Rassie standing uncomfortably close to each other, QDK dived across not once, but twice to take catches right in front of Van der Dussen. Inexplicably he did the same thing a third time but pulled out of the dive leaving Van der Dussen to drop yet another catch – this time off the edge of Joe Root’s bat. Not the type of player you want to drop at a key time in the England innings. Fortunately for South Africa, and Van der Dussen/QDK, Root was out shortly after to a snorter from Anrich Nortje.
It could have been so different …
To add insult to injury the narrow space that Van der Dussen is occupying at first slip could be better utilised to close the gap between second or third slip and gully. Time and again we saw the ball float between the gap for a boundary when a wicket was in the offing.
Widen the gap between the keeper and first slip significantly. De Kock is going to dive into that space anyway, so it is completely pointless and a waste of a key fielder to have someone standing in a narrow first slip position. Shift the slip cordon across to cover more space and close the gap between the last slip fielder and gully.
A better batting lineup like India or Australia would have severely punished these mistakes. The Proteas are very lucky that they have gotten away with it.
Sort it out please!