x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

South Africa cricket team gifted but not tough enough

That is the only explanation for the Proteas not winning a home Test series since 2008.

Given their debacle at Durban, you can be sure Graeme Smith and his Proteas had a sombre New Year's Eve, with perhaps a quiet dinner being their only allowance to festivities.

The South Africa captain was certainly pleased to see 2011 come to an end. "This has been a tough year for the Proteas," Smith said. "Hopefully 2012 will be a good one for us with the contests that lie ahead."

The year started with a drawn series against India at home. South Africa were then dumped out at the quarter-finals of the World Cup by New Zealand. Another drawn series at home against Australia followed, then came the chastening 208-run loss to Sri Lanka at Kingsmead, a venue where the home side have lost their last four matches by significant margins.

Few teams can boast of the batting riches South Africa have, particularly in the longer version of the game. Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers are among the top 20 in the ICC rankings; together they have scored 29,118 runs in Test cricket.

Jacques Rudolph and Ashwell Prince are no mugs with the bat either. Yet against Sri Lanka, South Africa had scores of 168 and 241 on a batting track.

What happened? Former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya used the word that few cricketers like to hear: they "choked".

There is a history, and that seems the reason why South Africa have not won a Test series at home since Bangladesh in 2008.

The players need to accept they go soft when the going gets tough and find solutions. Denying it will only lead to more debacles.

arizvi@thenational.ae


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