Dale Benkenstein needs to answer questions about the deterioration of the Proteas’ batting under his watch, writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
The Proteas were humiliated by Sri Lanka in the recent two-match Test series. Their batsmen, understandably, took most of the heat in the initial aftermath, but that heat quickly spread to Benkenstein, the batting coach.
So is he to blame?
In the table below you will see the Proteas’ batting totals in their last five Test series.
|Totals||First Test||Second Test||Third Test||Fourth Test|
|India (home)||286 & 130||335 & 258||194 & 177||N/A|
|Australia (home)||162 & 298||382 & 102-4||311 & 373||488 & 344-6d|
|Sri Lanka (away)||126 & 73||124 & 290||N/A||N/A|
|Pakistan (home)||223 & 151-4||431 & 43-1||262 & 303||N/A|
|Sri Lanka (home)||262 & 303||222 & 128||N/A||N/A|
In the table below you will see the totals racked up by the Proteas’ top six or seven in each Test in the last five series.
|Top six/seven||First Test||Second Test||Third Test||Fourth Test|
|India (home)||170 & 106||290 & 203||88 & 150||N/A|
|Australia (home)||151 & 283||269 & 98||245 & 282||341 & 299|
|Sri Lanka (away)||92 & 36||120 & 236||N/A||N/A|
|Pakistan (home)||169 & 136||372 & 33||252 & 256||N/A|
|Sri Lanka (home)||176 & 227||177 & 109||N/A||N/A|
These numbers are unacceptable, considering the top-order talent that the Proteas possess. Apart from the series against Australia, it has been the Proteas’ bowlers who have won them games.
The manner in which the Proteas batsmen lose their wickets suggests they are unsure at the crease. Something needs to change.
A couple of them have changed their natural approach and mindset in an attempt to find form. For example, Hashim Amla changed his stance, and Aiden Markram played more conservatively in search of a big score.
Right now, the general assumption is that his influence, or lack of it, relates to the batsmen’s poor form.
When in the hot seat at press conferences, Benkenstein always uses the same excuses – there were players he never knew about or there wasn’t enough footage to do analysis. He implied this against India when asked about the Proteas’ struggles against spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal in the ODIs, and did so again during the second Test against Sri Lanka.
Benkenstein also had no explanation for the Proteas’ poor batting performance in Port Elizabeth when they were skittled for 222 and 128. He said it had been a long summer for the team and they were not at their best against Sri Lanka. He added he keeps ‘thinking things will come right, but it hasn’t’, and that he ‘can’t put his finger on it’ as the reason for the poor displays.
For the Proteas’ batting coach not to know why the batsmen have been so poor, is of serious concern.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images