A whole lot has gone wrong for Enoch Nkwe’s boys in India. From batters failing to score runs, bowlers struggling to take wickets, players fighting against one another with the entire team looking dejected at the end of the second Test match where they lost by an innings and 137 runs which is India’s biggest win over South Africa.

But the Proteas head into the third and final Test match with nothing to lose even though Test Championship points are at stake.

The massive loss in the second Test highlights how poor the Proteas have played so far. Yes they are playing away against one of the best teams, it was always going to be a challenging tour but the lack application and fighting spirit is a bit of a concern with the players body language suggesting that they want return back home.

Two matches have been played and worrying signs have continued since the World Cup in England; particularly how the experienced batters are struggling with the bat. One player that comes to mind is Aiden Markram. Once again the latter has failed and I think the time has come to stop protecting Markram.

His average since last year is 18.4 in 10 innings which gets to show how badly he has been performing. His numbers of late have been shocking. It’s even shocking that spinner Keshav Maharaj scored more runs than the latter in the second test. Anyway Markram is out of the third Test after sustaining a self-inflicted wrist injury.

The likes of Thenuis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma have not been performing either. What do you do now? Do you drop them all? It’s a massive headache for the selectors because we don’t have an opening batsmen to stick with Dean Elgar at the top. It is time for the selectors to make some bold decisions and throw in youngsters that are doing well in the 4-Day Series. South African Cricket is in a transition phase after all.

One thing that’s worrying about Cricket South Africa (CSA) is that they protect and back players even when they don’t perform. It is about time they become ruthlessness – so that players don’t relax and get a wake-up call. Clearly de Bruyn doesn’t look like a Test player even though he reached triple figures in Sri Lanka. Zubayr Hamza is waiting on the sidelines and still hasn’t gotten his chance. that might change as Markram is injured.

The Proteas have been in India for almost five weeks now. The idea of them going there early to assess the conditions together with the A-side was a good one. Something that not many teams do, but after these two matches, did it really work?

South Africa didn’t deserve to get anything apart from the first test where it looked they could get a draw but the bowling of Mohammed Shami in the second innings was sensational.

Not replacing key opening batsman like former Captain Graeme Smith has hurt us badly. Losing guys like Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Dale Steyn to name a few and not being able to replace them after such a long time has shown how CSA didn’t prepare for life after them and put up a plan as to how they are going to replace them. Batting unit is exposed and of course, you can blame other batters for not taking their chances but we haven’t been consistent all around.

We’ve lost leaders in the Proteas team. A massive spine of the team is gone and we still haven’t found a suitable replacement in Jaques Kallis. He has retired for almost a decade and we are still talking about him. You might argue that players like him come one in a lifetime but we need a decent all-rounder.

In Test Cricket, they will tell you that the no.3 position is the most important position from all the 11 including the no.7 where the all-rounder is positioned but not having a proper no.3 batsman is a worry. The whole batting line up needs to be reconsidered and re-constructed.

With the whole coach debacle, it is a strange one considering there was enough time to get in a new coach. Nkwe being taken on a “interim basis” is a joke. A key and important series away from home, especially against a top side like India, is always a massive game. Picture by Lesedi Seripe

To add insult to injury, CSA goes to hire a batting coach for Test series but just shows how things didn’t work out for South Africa. There was no fighting spirit from the boys. Rabada needs assistance because if he doesn’t get wickets or Vernon Philander, we always struggle.

CSA CEO Thabang Moroe did mention in an interview during the CSA season Launch at the Wanderers Club that they will sit down after the series (against India) to discuss whether Nkwe should continue or not.

In looking at the current XI that played recently, only a few names will be around for the next four to five years: Dean Elgar, Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada, Aiden Markram, Keshav Maharaj, Temba Bavuma

We also might need to appoint a new captain because it is quite evident that current captain Faf du Plessis won’t be around for too long. So who is capable of taking over from due Plessis. Every team now and again goes through a transition. CSA has a difficult task on their hands.

With both Markram and Maharaj out of the third test, Zubayr Hamza looks certain he’ll play, but how will the team line up for Saturday’s match? George Linde will replace Maharaj after being called up.

There are so many questions: Does Bavuma or de Kock open with Elgar at the top? Who bats in no3 position? Does Heinrich Klassen come in to take the gloves off from de Kock? There are tough decisions to make for the selectors.

Nkwe and his troops have one more Test to play in which they will try to salvage some pride heading into the final match starting on Saturday. A win for the boys will  be a massive boost and good for the confidence with England coming in December.


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