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Ken Borland



Gabba pitch aside, years since SA batting was so weak 0

Posted on June 09, 2023 by Ken

The consensus among former Australian players in Brisbane was that they had never seen a Gabba Test pitch that was so green as what was prepared for the first Test against the Proteas this weekend; it has also probably been years since they saw such a weak South African batting line-up.

Those two factors, plus the sheer quality of both bowling attacks, were the reasons behind the astonishing two-day Test match in Brisbane, the second-shortest ever in Australia and the second-shortest anywhere since 1935.

The Proteas batting was already at a low ebb when they arrived in Australia. Their entire squad boasts just 17 Test centuries and captain Dean Elgar has scored 13 of them. It is a far, far cry from previous South African touring teams Down Under which saw batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers boast great individual performances. Previously, stars like Eddie Barlow, Aubrey Faulkner, Graeme Pollock and Colin Bland wowed Australian crowds.

There will be many different opinions as to why South African batting is at such a nadir; mine is the lack of top-quality first-class cricket played by the batsmen, yours may be different.

Elgar seems reluctant to make changes for the vital second Test in Melbourne from Boxing Day, but the Proteas have to bring something different to stay in the series. Selection does not seem to be a strong point of their’s at the moment and in Brisbane, in the most bowler-friendly conditions imaginable, they went in with five frontline bowlers instead of playing the extra batsman. Between them, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj bowled just 11 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen has scored just 295 runs in his last eight Tests at an average of only 21.07, having not reached fifty in that time, and would appear to be most in danger of losing his place. Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen, both in-form domestically before going on tour, are next in line.

Meanwhile Ryan Rickelton is back in South Africa and looking invincible whatever is going on in his ankle.

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