It’s a full-blown crisis as Proteas are whitewashed in Ranchi

Faf Du Plessis captain of South Africa bowled out during day 3 of the 3rd Test match between India and South Africa at JSCA International Stadium Complex on October 21, 2019 in Ranchi, India. (Photo by Isuru Sameera Peris/Gallo Images)

India’s superiority in the Test series is the least of South Africa’s problems with a full domestic international season still ahead.

The Proteas, almost appropriately, lost the third and final Test against India by an innings and 202 runs in Ranchi on Monday.

They did so within three and a bit days.

Those are the only specifics required for this latest embarrassment, because it simply doesn’t matter anymore what happened at JCA Stadium.

South African cricket is in a full-blown crisis.

You will be exposed to numerous leading figures citing “mitigating factors” for the Proteas’ whitewash – the situation is too dire to naively just look for excuses.

They’ll say the national team embraces accountability for this shambolic outcome, but…

India is a tough place to tour.

India have won 11th successive Test series at home, a run that stretches back to late 2012.

The team is in transition.

The coaching staff have interim gigs.

South Africa lost 3-0 in India in 2015 with a more experienced team.

The last-mentioned “fact” will probably be the cornerstone of apologists’ argument for giving this team some slack.

After all, a batting line-up of Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy couldn’t total more than 214 in seven innings, a run that included being dismissed for 79 in that series’ third Test.

It’s a pitiful argument.

India unapologetically prepared turning dust bowls in the hope of obliterating South Africa’s jittery batsman by exploiting their weakness against spin.

That undeniably worked as the Indian tweakers took 61 of the 70 Protea wickets that fell in that series.

And to illustrate just how dodgy those surfaces were, India only passed 300 once in seven innings.

Even without a dynamic spin duo like R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, the South African attack plugged away to take 53 wickets.

South Africa’s resistance felt so futile four years ago, but at least they still tried.

2019’s vintage can only dream of having that group’s guts and determination.

And they simply can’t argue that conditions have been against them.

The Proteas attack didn’t bowl out India ONCE in this series – the “lowest” total they conceded was the hosts’ DECLARATION at 323/5 in the first Test.

India’s spinners were prominent in this series, but the Indian seamers of Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav played starring roles.

Meanwhile, the Proteas’ bowling unit has generally looked toothless and conceded an average four runs per over across all innings.

If Shami and Yadav could combine for 24 wickets, then how on earth did the South African seamers struggle so badly?

There wasn’t any evidence of the attack adapting or improving, instead relying on Kagiso Rabada to deliver the odd inspired spell, only to lose the plot the next.

It is a generally inexperienced attack, but their stoic approach suggests little coaching has been done on this trip.

South Africa’s batting has been an Achilles heel for years now, a situation allowed to spin out of control due to the insistence on cultivating seamer-friendly pitches for home matches.

But that’s a debate on its own.

The other elephant in the room is whether this Test team is really all that inexperienced.

Elgar, Du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Rabada, Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj have a combined 330 caps in the five-day format between them.

That’s more than half of the members of what can be regarded as the first-choice XI.

And what about team spirit?

What does Rabada and De Kock’s war of (swear) words in the second Test tell us about unity?

Aiden Markram breaks his wrist by himself because of a “moment of frustration”.

What is the level of emotional intelligence of this squad?

Can you blame interim team director Enoch Nkwe for not taking enough control?

The poor guy was handed an assignment that put him on a hiding to nothing (and it’s surely a tad unfair to lambast him for taking the gig).

The fact of the matter is that Cricket South Africa’s wayward governance is eroding the standing and competitiveness of the sport locally.

Yes, the federation has had numerous internal crises before, but for the first time it’s directly affecting proceedings on the field too.

CSA’s controversial change to the structure of domestic cricket threatens to affect the livelihoods of at least 70 players.

The South African Cricketers Association (Saca) and CSA are in court over those changes as well as the true state of the governing body’s finances, thought to be in a state of disarray.

The players have lost their champion, Saca CEO Tony Irish, to England.

Last week, after a protracted battle, CSA finally stated it will pay the R2 million in arrears for Saca members that played in last season’s Mzansi Super League T20.

One report said that intervention only came after Saca threatened to go public.

There’s no more buffer between administrative chaos and the players anymore.

It now goes hand-in-hand … and we should be fearful.

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