Cricket 7.8.2017 07:20 pm

Proteas’ nightmare tour mercifully ends but that’s not the point

The Proteas arguably needs Faf du Plessis and co now more than ever. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP.

The Proteas arguably needs Faf du Plessis and co now more than ever. Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP.

Faf du Plessis and his troops predictably lose their Test series to England 3-1 but that only masks far bigger problems.

By now, the fact that the Proteas lost the fourth and final Test against England by 177 runs is irrelevant.

Only the most hardcore South Africa fan would’ve bet against the home side claiming a 3-1 series win after Faf du Plessis’ men let some form of a grasp slip on the third evening.

Also read: Ottis Gibson as the new Proteas coach is hardly a bad idea

That’s also not important.

The only thing that South African cricket needs to realise is that its national team is, at the very least, vulnerable.

Some are already convinced its in full-blown trouble.

One can argue the Proteas were unnecessarily disrupted throughout the tour by the uncertainty of Russell Domingo’s future.

That’s only true to an extent.

It certainly didn’t help that the poor man needed to return to South Africa twice during the tour to attend to his ailing mother and eventually bury her.

But those are mitigating circumstances.

The cold reality that Domingo has done himself no favours.

After this tour, he has precious little to stand on in terms of re-appointment.

One has to remember the reports that claim England bowling coach Ottis Gibson has been headhunted to replace him only emerged last week.

Domingo has had since May to strengthen his position.

Instead, he remained coy on whether he wanted to re-apply for his job and even created the impression that he wanted CSA to launch a plea for him to submit his CV.

Regardless of CSA’s motives, it’s disappointing that Domingo couldn’t send out a more decisive message to his troops.

At least you would’ve believed the players when they said they wanted to give their all for a mentor many believe has been treated unfairly.

By Monday evening there was no fight left in this team.

They didn’t grab every chance they were given in the field, employed questionable tactics and showed little appetite for a fight with the bat.

This hasn’t been a team trying to save their coach’s career or at least prove CSA’s board wrong about looking for a new guy.

This has been a team accepting that they’re getting a new coach in due course.

It’s now rather ironic that the Test the Proteas did win was when Domingo wasn’t present.

South Africa’s problems don’t stop with Domingo and his coaching staff.

Hashim Amla (83) and Faf du Plessis’ (61) gritty partnership of 123 – out of a total of 202 – revealed another massive headache.

The Proteas can’t afford any retirements from their senior group now.

Let’s repeat for emphasis: the Proteas simply can’t.

Morne Morkel ended as their leading wicket taker with 19 scalps.

Amla was the only South African batter to score more than two fifties in the series.

The Vernon Philander hole was massive when he wasn’t present.

New(ish) members like Keshav Maharaj (17 wickets) and Duanne Olivier showed promise for the future and Temba Bavuma deserves a spot at No 4.

But depth is thin.

Chris Morris is an iffy Test option, Heino Kuhn’s brief Test career is to all intents and purpose over and Morkel, a No 10 or 11, averaged more with the bat than Theunis de Bruyn.

Given how South Africa ‘A’ slumped on their earlier trip to England, options are limited.

If Gibson is handed the Proteas gig, he needs to convince his seniors of staying on.

Because a full-blown transition now looks like a killer.

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