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SA lose first Test series in Australia since 2006; Contention for WTC 2021-23 Final at risk

Updated: Jan 10

South Africa tour of Australia 2022-23: South Africa lose first Test series in Australia since 2006; Contention for WTC 2021-23 Final at risk. South Africa lost 0-2 to Australia in three-match Test series.

South Africa tour of Australia: Dean Elgar scored only 56 runs from six innings at an average of 9.33. | Walking Wicket (Images_ ©Twitter)
Elgar scored only 56 runs from six innings at an average of 9.33 (Images: ©Twitter)

The South African cricket team, a unit that is a force to be reckoned with, not just in their own backyard but on away tours as well. That has been one of the trademarks of Protea Fire. Except for Asia, South Africa has been a very successful touring team for almost two decades now. South Africa has been one such team that has dominated the Aussies in their own backyard for longer than any other Test-playing nation. While the greatest of great teams were defeated by the Australians on the fast and bouncy pitches down under, South Africa always managed to dominate them, and boy, did they ever look fragile in Australian conditions.


South Africa's dominance in Kangaroo Country

Since the 2005-06 series, where Australia pounced on the Proteas 2-0, South Africa and Australia have gone on to play three series between 2008 and 2017. The Proteas have ensured that the Australians don't smell victory once in all three series, defeating the Aussies with series scorelines of 2-1, 1-0 and 2-1. The 2022-23 series was one such event for South Africa; had they won it, they would have been comfortably poised to play in the finals of the World Test Championship (WTC) 2021-23.


Decoding what has changed for South Africa

Well, nothing went as per historical data for the Proteas, as they did not manage to win even a single match on this Australian tour of 2022–23. This was also the first time ever since the 2005–06 debacle that the South African team did not win even a single Test match in Australia. The first in 17 years!


Read More: Aus vs SA, Tests, 2022-23: Warner stops the press with memorable double hundred in Boxing Day Test

SA vs Ind, 3rd Test, Freedom Trophy 2021-22_ Keegan Petersen's 82 key in South Africa's 'come from behind' 2-1 win (©ICC_GettyImages)
South Africa missed Keegan Petersen in the middle-order (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)

Inexperienced batting? Or poor form of impact players?

Dean Elgar, who has been the backbone of South Africa’s batting for the past 24 months, was struggling to put bat on ball in the ongoing series. Elgar, who has scored 1044 runs in 34 innings averaging 32.67 between January 1, 2021 and January 8, 2023, has had a horrendous series that he would want to forget as quickly as a toddler forgets a pre-primary rhyme.


In the six innings he batted during the recent Australia tour, the South Africa captain only scored 56 runs at an average of 9.33. He also became the second-lowest run-scorer amongst batting captains in Test cricket history, having been dismissed in all six innings of a three-match Test series, with the left-hander only behind compatriot Graeme Smith (45 in 6 innings against Australia in 2013-14). If we deep dive further into Elgar’s performance in Australia, well, it has always been poor, so nothing has changed for the left-hander on the fast and bouncy pitches of Australia.


In the 13 innings Elgar has played in Kangaroo Land, he has scored 217 and averages just 16.69, compared to a career average of 37.51 in Test cricket. In fact, in the ongoing series, the likes of Keshav Maharaj have scored 86 runs, 30 more than Elgar in this series. Apart from Elgar, Bavuma (881), Van der Dussen (616) and Keegan Petersen (575) have been the other top-scorers for South Africa in Tests between 2021 and January 2023. While Petersen was ruled out of the entire series due to an injury, Der Dussen was benched after one match where he could only score five runs in two innings. Apart from Kyle Verreynne and Temba Bavuma, who scored 168 and 185 runs, respectively, in the six innings, the rest of the Protea batters could not even cross 100 runs in the six innings.


Read More: Mitchell Starc & the zest for Test cricket


Protea fire? didn’t fire with ball at all!

South Africa picked up a total of 26 wickets in the three-match Test series. South Africa’s bowlers were only able to skittle out all Australian batters once! Out of the 26 dismissals, one was courtesy run out, while the bowlers earnt 25 wickets.


While Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the Protea bowlers, picking 42.30 per cent (11 of the total wickets). The second-best was Anrich Nortje, who picked up seven wickets in three innings. In fact, Keshav Maharaj, who is one of the senior-most players of the unit, took only one wicket in the 68.5 overs he bowled against the Aussies.


For the cricket trivia lovers, this was the first time in South Africa’s Australian touring history that all of the Protea bowlers were hit for at least one six. This time in Australia, not a single South African bowler took a five-fer.


All this paints a really poor picture for the Protea bowlers and they really need to get down to the drawing board to ascertain the hows and whys of their debacle.


Read More: South Africa’s batting big hurdle in their quest for 4th successive Test series victory in Australia


What does the drawn Sydney Test mean for WTC points table standing?

Position

Team

PCT(%)

Points

W

L

D

No. of series

Penalty

1

Australia

75.56

136

10

1

4

5

0

2

India

58.93

99

8

4

2

5

-5

3

Sri Lanka

53.33

64

5

4

1

5

0

4

South Africa

48.72

76

6

6

1

5

0

5

England

46.97

124

10

8

4

6

-12

6

West Indies

40.91

54

4

5

2

5