South Africa - Where to now?

Remove this Banner Ad

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
Ok so amidst all the upheaval in cricket this year and the WTC and the Ashes last year and the ultimately underwhelming clash between 'the best ever' New Zealand side and Australia here last summer, the introduction of Afghanistan and Ireland to Test cricket, and obviously the West Indies' rapidly building case as the world's best cricket side, something quite worrying has been happening in SA.

At a time when we are craving competitive series' and teams who can travel, the one side who was consistently able to be competitive and good on the road since the Warne-McGrath-Gilchrist era, have quietly almost sunk without trace. Starting with that huge defeat in India, they've spent the best part of 4-5 years getting progressively worse, momentarily surfacing for a couple of wins against Australia. They lost the first ever series to a visiting Asian team not long ago, have had Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Amla and De Villiers retire - they managed to cover the loss of Smith and Kallis well enough but haven't looked like patching up the other holes, and they have another one now with Faf Du Plessis not returning.

Cricinfo had a story doing the rounds introducing the 6-7 potential starters this summer as they host Sri Lanka. Assessing their first class numbers demands a bit of closer analysis because of their two competitions but some of them DO have some very impressive numbers. De Kock will keep the gloves and the captaincy but one of the kids they were talking about promoting is a keeper-batsman who averages over 50 across 40 games or something. And he doesn't do it through huge scores - he's only hit 3 centuries in 60-odd innings but averages a half century every 2.5 times he bats. There is another, Raynard van Tonder, who averages a shade under 50 from 33 matches and he's only 22.
As usual there's a lot of pace bowlers floating around who have very strong records.

With Rabada, Nortje, Maharaj and Ngidi if he is ever fully fit, they still boast a fairly decent bowling line up.

The one constant in the last 30 years of international cricket aside from India being competitive at home and Australia largely being somewhere in the mix, has been South Africa never being far away.

I think with the Quota system it is a really really perilous time for them, for a long time they defied retirements and players moving to England or elsewhere (they could really do with Neil Wagner or Marnus Labuschagne right now) but based on their last 2 years they're really on a precipice if they don't arrest the slide soon.

Does anyone give them hope of resurrecting their fortunes?
 

James Colorado

Club Legend
Aug 25, 2014
2,262
4,474
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Other Teams
The Baggy Green, Storm, Celtic F.C.
I don't follow SA cricket closely (despite Kallis being not only my favourite non-Australian cricketer but my favourite I've ever seen), so forgive me if I've missed someone, but it's always seemed to me that their inability to develop a world class spinner has stopped some excellent SA teams from going on to become dominant rather than constantly competitive (I remember someone who played when I was a child - Paul Adams? Had the 'frog in a blender action', but never quite went on with it).

A top-line spinner is obviously so important to playing in Asia, but having someone who is absolutely world class also gets you success in England, NZ, etc. Even though visiting spinners struggle on these shares, having someone who can hold an end, at a decent economy, and be good for 2-3 wickets a test in Australian conditions (our batsman's poor playing of spin does help, but probably doesn't quite negate the pace friendly conditions of most of our grounds) just to keep the quicks fresh is invaluable.

If SA can develop one, preferably a wrist spinner for the turn, I can see them having a strong team again; thing is, is spin valued over there? If not, then there won't be the initial encouragement followed by guided development through rep teams, grade sides, and domestic competitions.
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
I don't follow SA cricket closely (despite Kallis being not only my favourite non-Australian cricketer but my favourite I've ever seen), so forgive me if I've missed someone, but it's always seemed to me that their inability to develop a world class spinner has stopped some excellent SA teams from going on to become dominant rather than constantly competitive (I remember someone who played when I was a child - Paul Adams? Had the 'frog in a blender action', but never quite went on with it).

A top-line spinner is obviously so important to playing in Asia, but having someone who is absolutely world class also gets you success in England, NZ, etc. Even though visiting spinners struggle on these shares, having someone who can hold an end, at a decent economy, and be good for 2-3 wickets a test in Australian conditions (our batsman's poor playing of spin does help, but probably doesn't quite negate the pace friendly conditions of most of our grounds) just to keep the quicks fresh is invaluable.

If SA can develop one, preferably a wrist spinner for the turn, I can see them having a strong team again; thing is, is spin valued over there? If not, then there won't be the initial encouragement followed by guided development through rep teams, grade sides, and domestic competitions.

I'm guessing - and I'm not saying this derisively as you stated from the outset that you don't follow it closely - you haven't watched a lot of Keshav Maharaj. To both the eye, and numbers tests, he's the best spinner they've had since re-admission. He's taken 110 at 33 and until 5 Tests ago that average was below 29 - since then he's had blow-out innings of 1-196, 5-180 and 2-160 that have done some serious damage to his figures but for a guy who has played 26 of his Tests in SA, England, Australia and New Zealand he's actually shown quite a bit. While he has to reign in some of his profligacy from last summer, he's one of the few players (especially being of colour) who is locked in for the time being for any game outside of a four-prong pace tactic
 

Log in to remove this ad.

James Colorado

Club Legend
Aug 25, 2014
2,262
4,474
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Other Teams
The Baggy Green, Storm, Celtic F.C.
I'm guessing - and I'm not saying this derisively as you stated from the outset that you don't follow it closely - you haven't watched a lot of Keshav Maharaj. To both the eye, and numbers tests, he's the best spinner they've had since re-admission. He's taken 110 at 33 and until 5 Tests ago that average was below 29 - since then he's had blow-out innings of 1-196, 5-180 and 2-160 that have done some serious damage to his figures but for a guy who has played 26 of his Tests in SA, England, Australia and New Zealand he's actually shown quite a bit. While he has to reign in some of his profligacy from last summer, he's one of the few players (especially being of colour) who is locked in for the time being for any game outside of a four-prong pace tactic
You're right, I don't know him well. From the name, I'm guessing he's of subcontinental ancestry; is there a divide in SA as far as developing spinners goes, that it's more likely to be a descendant of subcontinental immigrants who takes it up, rather than someone from a white or black background, just due to the historical tradition of spin in India?
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
You're right, I don't know him well. From the name, I'm guessing he's of subcontinental ancestry; is there a divide in SA as far as developing spinners goes, that it's more likely to be a descendant of subcontinental immigrants who takes it up, rather than someone from a white or black background, just due to the historical tradition of spin in India?
Not really I don't think. They've had off the top of my head Paul Harris, who was never going to rip a team apart but was a perfect foil for the pace assault they used to use - he was tall and white. Dane Piedt was Cape Coloured I think. So was Robin Peterson. Tahir was obviously directly from Pakistan having migrated.
 

James Colorado

Club Legend
Aug 25, 2014
2,262
4,474
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Other Teams
The Baggy Green, Storm, Celtic F.C.
Not really I don't think. They've had off the top of my head Paul Harris, who was never going to rip a team apart but was a perfect foil for the pace assault they used to use - he was tall and white. Dane Piedt was Cape Coloured I think. So was Robin Peterson. Tahir was obviously directly from Pakistan having migrated.
Paul Harris is the one I think I was recalling, with the unique action. Tahir was relatively recent, and I recall him as being a good attacking spinner but could leak runs (happy to be corrected if I'm wrong), which to me puts him well below the world class standard of someone like a Warne or Kumble, who could adjust line to focus on economy if they weren't likely to pick up a wicket but their bowling partners were. Just had a quick Wikipedia check on Maharaj, as the name is familiar. He actually debuted in Perth, but the reason why I don't remember him well is probably because he hasn't had a massive impact in tests against Australia. I don't watch as much international cricket as you (kind of how most weeks I only watch the Hawthorn game unless it's finals or another game that really grabs me) which does keep me at a disadvantage when discussing the other teams, but I'll make sure to keep an eye on him. He's at the age now where spinners traditionally come into their prime, so he's got the chance to make a real name for himself.
 

Freo Big Fella

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 30, 2003
11,514
7,885
The great wide north
AFL Club
Fremantle
Other Teams
WA, Australia
I think their biggest problem is administrative, rather than quotas. The SA Government seems to never be too far away from taking action at CSA that will trigger an automatic ban due to the ICC's restrictions on political interference - I imagine that's going to be their biggest issue hovering in the background over the next few years. Solving that requires broader nationwide political reform though, which is a long way off.

Beyond that, the issue is they've hit a generational cliff similar to the ones we hit in 83-84 and 06-07 and, despite knowing it was coming, have failed to plan for it.

Kolpak is no longer an avenue post-Brexit, so that immediately eliminates one issue, and will hopefully force them to address more of the issues behind the player drain.

Beyond that, it's as PhatBoy says - they've got the makings of a talented side, but they're just going to be a lot further back in the pack than they're accustomed to being. Hopefully the Windies can continue to produce stronger away performances, the Kiwis improve and England solidify their general test performances a bit.

The quotas? I realise they offend the sensibilities of some of the culture warriors on here, but I think the most interesting point I heard made was from Neil Manthorp on commentary a couple of years back; his argument was that its as much of an economic imperative as a social one, and that big sponsors (Castle in particular) would not stay on board with a side that wasn't representative of 90+ per cent of the country.
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
Paul Harris is the one I think I was recalling, with the unique action. Tahir was relatively recent, and I recall him as being a good attacking spinner but could leak runs (happy to be corrected if I'm wrong), which to me puts him well below the world class standard of someone like a Warne or Kumble, who could adjust line to focus on economy if they weren't likely to pick up a wicket but their bowling partners were. Just had a quick Wikipedia check on Maharaj, as the name is familiar. He actually debuted in Perth, but the reason why I don't remember him well is probably because he hasn't had a massive impact in tests against Australia. I don't watch as much international cricket as you (kind of how most weeks I only watch the Hawthorn game unless it's finals or another game that really grabs me) which does keep me at a disadvantage when discussing the other teams, but I'll make sure to keep an eye on him. He's at the age now where spinners traditionally come into their prime, so he's got the chance to make a real name for himself.
tahir was very very expensive in his brief Test career. Had the big spin of a Warne or someone but none of the control and he paid the price. Though he carved a solid niche for himself in the limited overs scene.
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
I think their biggest problem is administrative, rather than quotas. The SA Government seems to never be too far away from taking action at CSA that will trigger an automatic ban due to the ICC's restrictions on political interference - I imagine that's going to be their biggest issue hovering in the background over the next few years. Solving that requires broader nationwide political reform though, which is a long way off.

Beyond that, the issue is they've hit a generational cliff similar to the ones we hit in 83-84 and 06-07 and, despite knowing it was coming, have failed to plan for it.

Kolpak is no longer an avenue post-Brexit, so that immediately eliminates one issue, and will hopefully force them to address more of the issues behind the player drain.

Beyond that, it's as PhatBoy says - they've got the makings of a talented side, but they're just going to be a lot further back in the pack than they're accustomed to being. Hopefully the Windies can continue to produce stronger away performances, the Kiwis improve and England solidify their general test performances a bit.

The quotas? I realise they offend the sensibilities of some of the culture warriors on here, but I think the most interesting point I heard made was from Neil Manthorp on commentary a couple of years back; his argument was that its as much of an economic imperative as a social one, and that big sponsors (Castle in particular) would not stay on board with a side that wasn't representative of 90+ per cent of the country.

I 100 per cent agree with the driving factors behind the quotas. I just think there has to be a slightly better way of implementing it until such time as the players being used to fill those numbers are all international standard.

I don't think it is far off. Remember their first black African Test player was Makhaya Ntini - that was only 22 years ago or something. Since then they have found plenty of bowlers who can earn a spot on merit. So it has worked from that perspective. They're getting plenty of quicks who have African or coloured backgrounds and almost all of them have at least been ODI quality. Ideally the same sort of progress will be made with batsmen of colour on the back of Bavuma's underwhelming but important run in the side.
 

Freo Big Fella

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 30, 2003
11,514
7,885
The great wide north
AFL Club
Fremantle
Other Teams
WA, Australia
I 100 per cent agree with the driving factors behind the quotas. I just think there has to be a slightly better way of implementing it until such time as the players being used to fill those numbers are all international standard.

I don't think it is far off. Remember their first black African Test player was Makhaya Ntini - that was only 22 years ago or something. Since then they have found plenty of bowlers who can earn a spot on merit. So it has worked from that perspective. They're getting plenty of quicks who have African or coloured backgrounds and almost all of them have at least been ODI quality. Ideally the same sort of progress will be made with batsmen of colour on the back of Bavuma's underwhelming but important run in the side.
Given a lot of the young quicks seem to be coming through accelerated private school/scholarship programs, you'd imagine the talent ID structure is there. I wonder if the decks at sub-domestic/school level are discouraging young bats a bit?
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
It’s pretty obvious what wrong with them, but it’s not politically correct to actually say what it is...

Yeah that's because its factually incorrect to say it. If what you were saying is true, the non-coloured guys who have come in would have made runs. They haven't. De Kock, Markram and Elgar are three of their top 7. Some of the other four spots have been given to coloured players, who haven't been able to do the job, and some of them have been given to white guys who haven't been able to do the job. Their best bowler is African. Their best spinner since re-admission and current player is coloured. Their most exciting prospect with the ball is African. While it IS a factor (and I don't know why you're saying it is politically incorrect to mention it when the OP from yours truly actually mentioned it), there is a lot more to it than that.
 

(Log in to remove this ad.)

Perth bloke

Cancelled
Dec 19, 2020
1,158
831
AFL Club
West Coast
If white people in South Africa were just nicer to the blacks and didn't treat them like spit historically then we wouldn't even be having this argument today. There is only one race to blame in that country
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
If white people in South Africa were just nicer to the blacks and didn't treat them like spit historically then we wouldn't even be having this argument today. There is only one race to blame in that country

Absolutely. But it has happened now and bridging the divide is more important than some onfield results.
 

Gough

Moderator
Sep 29, 2006
56,839
101,312
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Absolutely. But it has happened now and bridging the divide is more important than some onfield results.
Cricket is a niche sport over there, and I am generalising a bit but the Afrikaans like their rugger, the blacks worship football leaving cricket as a predominately English South African sport who are also the most likely to make use of dual passports to immigrate or go Kolpak.
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
Cricket is a niche sport over there, and I am generalising a bit but the Afrikaans like their rugger, the blacks worship football leaving cricket as a predominately English South African sport who are also the most likely to make use of dual passports to immigrate or go Kolpak.

Absolutely. I think in its own way it is almost meritorious in the same way that it was amazing that the Windies dominated as long as they did, and New Zealand are as generally competitive as they are given their sizes, the spot that cricket occupies in the South African landscape makes it borderline miraculous that they've done as well as they have.

I would say that the Afrikaan influence is a bit bigger than we probably give it credit for though. Their two best batsmen since readmission are both Afrikaaner and their best ever fast bowler - albeit one who only speaks English, seemingly is of Afrikaaner descent
 

Pippen94

Club Legend
Jun 12, 2019
1,609
411
AFL Club
Sydney
Ok so amidst all the upheaval in cricket this year and the WTC and the Ashes last year and the ultimately underwhelming clash between 'the best ever' New Zealand side and Australia here last summer, the introduction of Afghanistan and Ireland to Test cricket, and obviously the West Indies' rapidly building case as the world's best cricket side, something quite worrying has been happening in SA.

At a time when we are craving competitive series' and teams who can travel, the one side who was consistently able to be competitive and good on the road since the Warne-McGrath-Gilchrist era, have quietly almost sunk without trace. Starting with that huge defeat in India, they've spent the best part of 4-5 years getting progressively worse, momentarily surfacing for a couple of wins against Australia. They lost the first ever series to a visiting Asian team not long ago, have had Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Amla and De Villiers retire - they managed to cover the loss of Smith and Kallis well enough but haven't looked like patching up the other holes, and they have another one now with Faf Du Plessis not returning.

Cricinfo had a story doing the rounds introducing the 6-7 potential starters this summer as they host Sri Lanka. Assessing their first class numbers demands a bit of closer analysis because of their two competitions but some of them DO have some very impressive numbers. De Kock will keep the gloves and the captaincy but one of the kids they were talking about promoting is a keeper-batsman who averages over 50 across 40 games or something. And he doesn't do it through huge scores - he's only hit 3 centuries in 60-odd innings but averages a half century every 2.5 times he bats. There is another, Raynard van Tonder, who averages a shade under 50 from 33 matches and he's only 22.
As usual there's a lot of pace bowlers floating around who have very strong records.

With Rabada, Nortje, Maharaj and Ngidi if he is ever fully fit, they still boast a fairly decent bowling line up.

The one constant in the last 30 years of international cricket aside from India being competitive at home and Australia largely being somewhere in the mix, has been South Africa never being far away.

I think with the Quota system it is a really really perilous time for them, for a long time they defied retirements and players moving to England or elsewhere (they could really do with Neil Wagner or Marnus Labuschagne right now) but based on their last 2 years they're really on a precipice if they don't arrest the slide soon.

Does anyone give them hope of resurrecting their fortunes?
Quotas were never the problem - it was attempted solution to small & declining demographic making up squad.
 

Gough

Moderator
Sep 29, 2006
56,839
101,312
AFL Club
Hawthorn
I think saying that it's not A problem is being a bit simplistic but it certainly is nowhere near the main or only issue
It's a uniquely South African problem and entirely one of their own making. CSA' scorrect attempt to field a national team that resembles the nation has alienated a section of cricket's core constituency. You could argue that that sort of racism doesn't belong in the game and those people are better off out of it, as I would but that doesn't help South African cricket in the immediate future.
 

Pippen94

Club Legend
Jun 12, 2019
1,609
411
AFL Club
Sydney
With quotas South Africa beat Australia in 3 consecutive times in test series away & most recent start at home. They have ranked no.1 at various times & are always among the highest ranked nations. Yet, when they lose ppl just want to talk about quotas.
Big picture is; if black majority don't take to sport it'll die
 

Pykie

Cancelled
Sep 17, 2006
20,605
45,599
Lord's
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Leeds United
Wagner moved to NZ as a 22 year old to specifically pursue Test Cricket and developed in SAF junior levels.

Labuschagne moved to Australia as a 10 year old and was pretty much exclusively developed in Australian junior cricket.

One is not the same as the other.

Im sure SAF would love Labuschagne atm, but it’s just as relevant as also saying England would love Steve Smith atm.
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
Wagner moved to NZ as a 22 year old to specifically pursue Test Cricket and developed in SAF junior levels.

Labuschagne moved to Australia as a 10 year old and was pretty much exclusively developed in Australian junior cricket.

One is not the same as the other.

Im sure SAF would love Labuschagne atm, but it’s just as relevant as also saying England would love Steve Smith atm.

I never said otherwise
 

PhatBoy

Brownlow Medallist
May 5, 2016
28,869
30,795
AFL Club
Geelong
You specifically raised Wagner and Labuschagne.

Wagner I can understand, but Labuschagne is completely irrelevant to the discussion.

You may as well say SAF could do with Ashwin as a front line spinner...
They could.
 

Remove this Banner Ad

Remove this Banner Ad