A lot of Proteas players are fighting for their places, and that’s what brought about their rallying spirit in the first Test in Perth.
What a performance that was in Perth. On the first day they must have thought they were in big, big trouble. But Dale Steyn’s injury forced the rest of the bowlers to step up, and they did so by giving nothing away. The Australians gave into that pressure, very much like they did in 2012. The Proteas dominated proceedings from there and played excellent Test cricket.
I just wonder how much of that came down to the lack of certainty revolving around who’s going to be selected for each Test. The Proteas of today aren’t like they were a few years ago, where you could select a team without blinking an eye. Three seamers and a spinner was always the way to go because Jacques Kallis was there so they were always fine.
But now you get guys like Dean Elgar walking out to the crease and the talk every time is that he’s fighting for his place. Stephen Cook got a hundred on debut but now he’s already being questioned. Faf du Plessis was taken out of the side in January, but now he’s back in the side and captaining it. Vernon Philander came back into the side and perhaps looked a bit overweight and everyone was wondering how much longer he might last. Then there’s the middle order, with people asking when Rilee Rossouw is going to get a game.
Going into this series, it seemed that Kagiso Rabada was the only player genuinely guaranteed of his place in the side. He’s just that sort of bowler and athlete.
So it just seems that the Proteas are scrapping and not resting on their laurels. There’s plenty of debate surrounding the side, but this situation appears to be benefiting them. That fighting spirit is coming from the fact that everyone needs to rally together and perform. They’ve shown a lot of fight but take nothing away from the fact that it was a great victory.
I hope it’s not going to be a once off, but I don’t think it will be. Australia will come back stronger, but I’ll be very surprised if the Proteas don’t go on to win this series. Australia are so top heavy and rely so much on David Warner and Steve Smith.
Man for man SA are a better side. Australia are in turmoil at the moment – they’ve been battered in the press. The release of Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke’s autobiographies sparked rumours about a toxic environment in the camp. They just seem to have lost their aura.
In terms of selection for the next Test, I think they’ll go with Kyle Abbott over Morne Morkel. It’s far too risky to go with someone who’s been struggling with a back injury, especially with what happened to Steyn in the last Test. Abbott never lets anyone down. He’s a real, wholehearted performer and he’s done well whenever he’s represented South Africa. He’s just someone who won’t let you down.
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