South Africa’s batting big hurdle in their quest for 4th successive Test series victory in Australia
South Africa tour of Australia 2022: South Africa lost the Gabba Test in just two days against Australia. While Dean Elgar must looking for a turn around, South Africa is dearly missing Keegan Petersen in Australia.
Australia and South Africa played out one of the shortest completed Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane, where the game lasted for less than two days. This is in fact the second-shortest completed Test in terms of balls being bowled (866) and only behind the day-night Test in Ahmedabad between India and England played in early 2021, which lasted only 846 balls.
Coming to the opening game of the highly anticipated Test series between two of the giants of this format - South Africa and Australia - this match can called as an anti-climax. The visiting South African team is one of the best touring sides to Australia and they haven’t lost a series down under since their loss in the 2005/06 tour. To put the matter into perspective, the Proteas won the series on their three subsequent tours of Australia in 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2016-17 by margins of 2-1, 1-0 and 2-1, respectively.
South Africa bundled out for sub-200 totals for record 8 times in 2022
But South Africa’s stunning record down under is under serious threat, courtesy enduring such a defeat in under two days. The pitch in the first Test at the Gabba, traditionally a paradise for Australia, had everything in it for the pacers and without any doubt it was tough for the batters to survive on that track. Travis Head from Australia and Kyle Verreynne from South Africa were the only ones who managed to score half-centuries and South Africa (152 & 99) never really had any answer to the duo of skipper Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc who used the helpful conditions to the full extent.
For a side that is largely unfazed facing even the best of Australian attacks, this poor performance may come as a reality check. Their score of 99 in the 2nd innings is only their second lowest against Australia in the last 30 years, behind 96 all-out at Cape Town in 2011. The match aggregate for South Africa was just 251 and this is their 2nd lowest ever against Australia in a Test.
This is South Africa’s eighth sub-200 total this year (twice in the Gabba Test) which is their highest ever in a calendar year. Previously, they were all-out for under 200 seven times in three different years (1912, 2015 and 2018).
Proteas definitely missing Keegan Petersen
The Dean Elgar-led side will have to really ponder about their batting. Yes, most of their batters are new to the Test level and retirements of the stalwarts also didn’t help their cause either. Temba Bavuma did show some fight on the challenging first morning but the big scores from his bat keep eluding him. The skipper himself had a poor game with scores of 3 & 2 in the Test.
Rassie van der Dussen who bats in a different league in the white-balls formats for the team, looks a pale shadow of himself in the whites. Kyle Verreynne showed great promise in the first innings with his knock of 64, and this is the only positive for the team as far as their batting show is concerned.
The fight shown by the team under Elgar’s inspirational leadership in their home Test series against India was missing. Most of the players stepped up to the challenge and performed when it mattered.
In similar seaming yet far more tricky conditions at the Gabba, their batting faltered. They did miss Keegan Petersen who was one of the architects of that series win against India and unfortunately, he had to miss this tour due to a torn hamstring. The gritty right-hander scored 276 runs playing some vital knocks in the series for South Africa and his style of play would have been ideal on a wicket such as the one on offer at the Gabba. In short, this could be termed as the most inexperienced and non-threatening South African batting line-up ever to tour Australia in the modern era.
Dean Elgar has shown that he is a fighter and we can expect him to inspire his team in the rest of the two games like he did in the India series. However, things seem a little bleak on their tour down under this season, as they have a big task to negotiate a strong core of Australian bowlers.
The visitors will now take on hosts Australia in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne on December 26.