Sri Lanka tour of South Africa 2019 - 2 Tests, 5 ODIs, 2 T20Is

PhatBoy

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Great win from SL, unlike India they had to beat a full strength to get their special piece of history.

SA batting looking pretty thin with de Villiers gone & Amla fading.
Well no, they beat 10 men in the second innings of the first test and there was no Philander (or Ngidi for that matter) in the second.

What does it matter though. India didn’t have Ashwin for 3 tests either when they were here and ended up having to use a makeshift opener after one busted his ankle before playing a match and another could barely get bat on ball
 

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PhatBoy

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Would this be a bigger upset than the Windies against England? It'd have to be close, in my opinion. I think there was a lot of excitement to see West Indies not being completely hopeless again. But given Sri Lanka's form and some of the circumstances in this series, it'd be a pretty remarkable feat if they get up.
Windies actually had enough form overall and against England to suggest they could win if the stars aligned. Still wasn’t expected by any means but any side with a dangerous attack has a chance and West Indies do have a good attack by any measure. And England has a shit batting line up.

Sri Lanka’s form wasn’t only shit, they were missing at least 4 players from their best side (or the one that would have been picked, at least), Herath has just retired and their side was in utter turmoil.

I think the biggest surprise isn’t the miracle win in the first test - any nation in the right circumstances can pinch a test on the back of one piece of individual genius (one of perera’s own teammates showed that against Australia - Kusal Mendis).
It is the way they won this match by completely outplaying SA as a unit.
 

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This test series win is arguably Sri Lanka's greatest achievement in cricket since they won the 1996 World Cup.

Hard to believe they could knock off South Africa in a test series away from home after being thrashed here, one of the biggest upsets I can remember.
 

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Much of the talk will be about the South African batting and rightly so too but I want to concentrate on South Africa's bowling. Most people consider the South African bowling line up as the best bowling attack in the world and with good reason too as they have the stats to back it up in the last few years. But ever since Ottis Gibson took over the reins in South Africa, there has been a significant change in the way South Africa approached test cricket and a conscious effort was made to exploit their home advantage as much as possible. South Africa has always been the most difficult place to bat in the world, but Ottis Gibson and co took it up a whole new level while preparing extremely seam friendly pitches to suit the home team as much as possible. It's arguable that much of that change in strategy is down to South Africa's struggles in Asia, more importantly in the tour of India in 2015 where the wickets were very spin friendly and a number of voices in South Africa felt that it was unfair on the visiting team, although the team management itself didn't say it out in the open.

Later Sri Lanka and Bangladesh too adopted that strategy of maximising their home advantage and it paid rich dividends at home. You could almost sense that the team management felt "okay, if they are going to play the game that way, then let's have it their way". Faf and Gibson made no bones about the fact that they clearly wanted to use their home advantage as much as possible and hit asian teams with quick wickets at Highveld (as they're generally weak against pace and bounce) and western teams with the slightly slower wickets near sea level because of their vulnerability against spin. And to their credit, it did work against India and Australia, when India didn't get a single match at either Durban which has a huge Indian diaspora or Port Elizabeth and Australia started their series at Durban and Port Elizabeth, and they won both ties with reasonable comfort. But it was always going to have a side effect and it was the pushing of Maharaj into the fringes. South Africa didn't think twice about picking 4 frontline pacers and played quite a few times with no spinner at all.

But forgetting about the negative effect on spinners in their country, that change of wickets even had a negative effect on their pacers. Many of the wickets were very seam friendly, but that was not the issue. Quite a few of them were of questionable quality because of the high degree of irregular bounce and the wickets had a lot of cracks in them, so much so that Mickey Arthur, the south african born coach of Pakistan, commented that he wasn't impressed about the quality of pitches that South Africa dished out and said plainly they weren't "good enough" for test cricket.

But what effect those wickets had on the South African pacers was that they forgot how to bowl "dry". Because most of those wickets were 200-250 par wickets, there was never a phase in the game where they had to work for their wickets. A lot of their pacers were searching for the glory ball and as a result, leaked quite a few runs. It was a high risk - high reward strategy and they could afford to do that because they had a quartet of pacers more often than not, they could just keep attacking and it did work well. This is evident from the stats of teams outside asia bowling in their home conditions. It's not surprising that South Africa has the best average among all SENA teams but the interesting bit is the RPO (run per over) rate and SA had the highest rpo among all teams outside asia at home. Australia's was much lower, NZ was even lower and only England was close.

Bowling stats of SENA (SA, Eng, NZ, Aus) teams at home since 2018:

Screenshot_20190224-115323__01.jpg


I observed the same even during the Pakistan series which they won, but their pacers uncharacteristically leaked some runs as well. Babar Azam took Steyn to the cleaners quite a few times in that series and while Babar Azam is quite clearly one of the most gifted youngsters in world cricket now, nobody slaps around Dale fecking Steyn like that once, never mind repeat it again. And I also felt that the Rabada who we saw take over the world by storm and bowled with such venom wasn't the same Rabada in the last year or so, I know it's a big claim to make especially when he has the stats but I just felt he was a bit off radar in the last few months but maybe that's just me. Olivier is not someone who is about accuracy anyway as much he is about his threat of short balls, but I always felt he might struggle when he needed to pitch it up fuller consistently like in England or when the wickets doesn't have as much pace and bounce on slower pitches of asia that render his short bowling less effective.

Philander was still the only one who was as accurate as he always is but I'm not sure how long he or Dale Steyn will continue to push on. I think Ngidi is a very good prospect for them who attacks the stumps a lot, reminiscent of Ntini in many ways too. South Africa just couldn't adapt when the wickets weren't as difficult for bating as it was in the past series and they had to work for their wickets struggling for accuracy, especially in the absence of Philander. Whereas someone like Lakmal is all about accuracy and you have to be so to succeed on the slow wickets of asia. Vishwa Fernando used the new ball the best among all bowlers in the series and hence his success. I think the change in the wickets has been affecting the new ball skills of the Saffer pacers and it's high time they reverted to their normal South african wickets, which mind you is still the most difficult condition for batting in world cricket. SA just didn't need to resort to their current strategy which has been counterproductive for their away tours and now they have been shown up in their home series as well. I hear Gibson is moving to England shortly, hopefully they ditch their new found plan also when the new coach arrives because the current strategy neither allows their batsmen to flourish and has affected their pacers as well, never mind stunting the development of their spinner.
 

PhatBoy

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Much of the talk will be about the South African batting and rightly so too but I want to concentrate on South Africa's bowling. Most people consider the South African bowling line up as the best bowling attack in the world and with good reason too as they have the stats to back it up in the last few years. But ever since Ottis Gibson took over the reins in South Africa, there has been a significant change in the way South Africa approached test cricket and a conscious effort was made to exploit their home advantage as much as possible. South Africa has always been the most difficult place to bat in the world, but Ottis Gibson and co took it up a whole new level while preparing extremely seam friendly pitches to suit the home team as much as possible. It's arguable that much of that change in strategy is down to South Africa's struggles in Asia, more importantly in the tour of India in 2015 where the wickets were very spin friendly and a number of voices in South Africa felt that it was unfair on the visiting team, although the team management itself didn't say it out in the open.

Later Sri Lanka and Bangladesh too adopted that strategy of maximising their home advantage and it paid rich dividends at home. You could almost sense that the team management felt "okay, if they are going to play the game that way, then let's have it their way". Faf and Gibson made no bones about the fact that they clearly wanted to use their home advantage as much as possible and hit asian teams with quick wickets at Highveld (as they're generally weak against pace and bounce) and western teams with the slightly slower wickets near sea level because of their vulnerability against spin. And to their credit, it did work against India and Australia, when India didn't get a single match at either Durban which has a huge Indian diaspora or Port Elizabeth and Australia started their series at Durban and Port Elizabeth, and they won both ties with reasonable comfort. But it was always going to have a side effect and it was the pushing of Maharaj into the fringes. South Africa didn't think twice about picking 4 frontline pacers and played quite a few times with no spinner at all.

But forgetting about the negative effect on spinners in their country, that change of wickets even had a negative effect on their pacers. Many of the wickets were very seam friendly, but that was not the issue. Quite a few of them were of questionable quality because of the high degree of irregular bounce and the wickets had a lot of cracks in them, so much so that Mickey Arthur, the south african born coach of Pakistan, commented that he wasn't impressed about the quality of pitches that South Africa dished out and said plainly they weren't "good enough" for test cricket.

But what effect those wickets had on the South African pacers was that they forgot how to bowl "dry". Because most of those wickets were 200-250 par wickets, there was never a phase in the game where they had to work for their wickets. A lot of their pacers were searching for the glory ball and as a result, leaked quite a few runs. It was a high risk - high reward strategy and they could afford to do that because they had a quartet of pacers more often than not, they could just keep attacking and it did work well. This is evident from the stats of teams outside asia bowling in their home conditions. It's not surprising that South Africa has the best average among all SENA teams but the interesting bit is the RPO (run per over) rate and SA had the highest rpo among all teams outside asia at home. Australia's was much lower, NZ was even lower and only England was close.

Bowling stats of SENA (SA, Eng, NZ, Aus) teams at home since 2018:

View attachment 624897

I observed the same even during the Pakistan series which they won, but their pacers uncharacteristically leaked some runs as well. Babar Azam took Steyn to the cleaners quite a few times in that series and while Babar Azam is quite clearly one of the most gifted youngsters in world cricket now, nobody slaps around Dale fecking Steyn like that once, never mind repeat it again. And I also felt that the Rabada who we saw take over the world by storm and bowled with such venom wasn't the same Rabada in the last year or so, I know it's a big claim to make especially when he has the stats but I just felt he was a bit off radar in the last few months but maybe that's just me. Olivier is not someone who is about accuracy anyway as much he is about his threat of short balls, but I always felt he might struggle when he needed to pitch it up fuller consistently like in England or when the wickets doesn't have as much pace and bounce on slower pitches of asia that render his short bowling less effective.

Philander was still the only one who was as accurate as he always is but I'm not sure how long he or Dale Steyn will continue to push on. I think Ngidi is a very good prospect for them who attacks the stumps a lot, reminiscent of Ntini in many ways too. South Africa just couldn't adapt when the wickets weren't as difficult for bating as it was in the past series and they had to work for their wickets struggling for accuracy, especially in the absence of Philander. Whereas someone like Lakmal is all about accuracy and you have to be so to succeed on the slow wickets of asia. Vishwa Fernando used the new ball the best among all bowlers in the series and hence his success. I think the change in the wickets has been affecting the new ball skills of the Saffer pacers and it's high time they reverted to their normal South african wickets, which mind you is still the most difficult condition for batting in world cricket. SA just didn't need to resort to their current strategy which has been counterproductive for their away tours and now they have been shown up in their home series as well. I hear Gibson is moving to England shortly, hopefully they ditch their new found plan also when the new coach arrives because the current strategy neither allows their batsmen to flourish and has affected their pacers as well, never mind stunting the development of their spinner.
That’s all pretty fair. It’s worth noting, though, that Steyn has always been susceptible to going for runs though - it’s a direct consequence of being such an attacking bowler. it’s nothing new. David Warner, a very fine player of straight up and down pace bowling but an ordinary player of the swinging ball, has been a Steyn victim a few times but also bashed him around a bit purely as a consequence of two ultra-attacking cricketers meeting.


I have no problem with developing teams - the Windies are the obvious one - juicing up their home wickets to more or less establish a bit of a ‘foothold’ as a test side before pushing higher again and starting to get more competitive overseas. It’s a decent approach when you’re coming from the bottom of the barrel.

But SA? geez, with Australia having a couple of real lulls in the last decade, you could argue that a regularly competitive SA is the one constant in test cricket over the last 25 years. They are NEVER shit. They have some of the best quicks not just now, but of all time, and probably the best spinner they’ve ever had. There’s no real need for them to do it.
 

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Spin has never been South Africa's forte, they've wheeled out some bloody ordinary twirlers, Paul Harris was barely club standard, a poor man's Tufnell.
 

ioppolo

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Paul Adams, Nicky Boje, Johan Botha, Paul Harris, Imran Tahir, Keshav Maharaj, that's all I can think of in my lifetime. Tahir and Botha had decent one day careers.

Edit they played some white off spinner for a few tests a couple years ago as well.
 

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He was the king of ridiculous appeals, pretty much went up for anything that hit the pads.
And the funniest bit about that was that Symcox was a very tall man (my recollection was 6 '4 or thereabouts) and for a spinner bowled a reasonably shortish length, which meant he got bounce - and also made him not a particularly likely bowler to get many LBWs.
 

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And the funniest bit about that was that Symcox was a very tall man (my recollection was 6 '4 or thereabouts) and for a spinner bowled a reasonably shortish length, which meant he got bounce - and also made him not a particularly likely bowler to get many LBWs.
The crowd even got into him once by yelling 'howzat' every time pads were hit by the ball.
 

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That’s all pretty fair. It’s worth noting, though, that Steyn has always been susceptible to going for runs though - it’s a direct consequence of being such an attacking bowler. it’s nothing new. David Warner, a very fine player of straight up and down pace bowling but an ordinary player of the swinging ball, has been a Steyn victim a few times but also bashed him around a bit purely as a consequence of two ultra-attacking cricketers meeting.


I have no problem with developing teams - the Windies are the obvious one - juicing up their home wickets to more or less establish a bit of a ‘foothold’ as a test side before pushing higher again and starting to get more competitive overseas. It’s a decent approach when you’re coming from the bottom of the barrel.

But SA? geez, with Australia having a couple of real lulls in the last decade, you could argue that a regularly competitive SA is the one constant in test cricket over the last 25 years. They are NEVER shit. They have some of the best quicks not just now, but of all time, and probably the best spinner they’ve ever had. There’s no real need for them to do it.
Do you think Steyn's prowess has declined a bit after his recurrent injuries? I know he's been clocking good speeds but I just think he doesn't look the same Steyn of the old.
 

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Paul Adams, Nicky Boje, Johan Botha, Paul Harris, Imran Tahir, Keshav Maharaj, that's all I can think of in my lifetime. Tahir and Botha had decent one day careers.

Edit they played some white off spinner for a few tests a couple years ago as well.
Simon Harmer.

Did look pretty ordinary when he played for South Africa but then took the kolpak route and he's had a couple of good seasons for Essex now.
 

PhatBoy

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Spin has never been South Africa's forte, they've wheeled out some bloody ordinary twirlers, Paul Harris was barely club standard, a poor man's Tufnell.
Except for the fact that Harris played the EXACT role he was picked for. He was there to bowl tight, chip in with a wicket or two, and add starch to the lower order. And he did it bloody well
 

PhatBoy

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Do you think Steyn's prowess has declined a bit after his recurrent injuries? I know he's been clocking good speeds but I just think he doesn't look the same Steyn of the old.
A little. I think he’s been pretty unlucky too though, he has beaten the bat A LOT and had a handful of catches dropped since he came back.

He still picked up 18 wickets across the five home tests so he’s not at liability stage yet.
 

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Maharaj is as good a tweaker as there is going, but the thing is he has suffered from his development being hindered by the natural tendency to go all out with the pacers. Can't be treated like a tap turning him on and off at will and expecting him to deliver each time on the odd occasion the Rolls Royce pace brigade don't deliver. One thing Australia can actually be commended for is their persistence with Lyon - could have very easily left a spinner out at times there on those friendly home summers, but they didn't and he got the consistency required to develop experience on seam friendly pitches.

India kind of do the same thing with Ashwin and he hasn't become as well rounded a player he could be as a result. Need to show them full confidence.

I like Harmer, think he would definitely be international class or thereabouts. Better than Maharaj? I dunno and with the quota system it was only going to go one way.
 

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SL had a great prep for this series in terms of playing tests in NZ and Aus, surely that was a great help to them here...

If Australia were serious about winning tests in the sub continent they should play 2 tests SL and 2 in Bangladesh before an India series...
 

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Maharaj is as good a tweaker as there is going, but the thing is he has suffered from his development being hindered by the natural tendency to go all out with the pacers. Can't be treated like a tap turning him on and off at will and expecting him to deliver each time on the odd occasion the Rolls Royce pace brigade don't deliver. One thing Australia can actually be commended for is their persistence with Lyon - could have very easily left a spinner out at times there on those friendly home summers, but they didn't and he got the consistency required to develop experience on seam friendly pitches.

India kind of do the same thing with Ashwin and he hasn't become as well rounded a player he could be as a result. Need to show them full confidence.

I like Harmer, think he would definitely be international class or thereabouts. Better than Maharaj? I dunno and with the quota system it was only going to go one way.
What..Ashwin actually regularly plays in all India matches. He actually bowled very well in the first matches of both the England and Australia series. It's just that he's got a terrible physique and unfit half the time. He generally bowls very well in the first innings when the conditions are less favourable and sets up a match well but ****s it up in the 2nd innings when he is expected to deliver in favourable conditions by trying to be too funky. That's always been his downfall.

Don't know if he has improved after his kolpak deal but Maharaj was miles better than Harmer when both were playing for South Africa. Maharaj actually picked a lot of wickets on debut tours to Australia and New Zealand but his development had been stunted in the last one and half years with SA's new policy.
 
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