It will be unfair to expect too much from Stephen Cook if he plays in the fourth Test at Centurion.
Cook’s inclusion has been coming for a while because of Stiaan van Zyl’s struggles at the top of the order. However, it would be unfair on Cook to expect him to score big runs straight away.
What if he fails in Pretoria? What does that mean for the next series South Africa play?
The manner of defeat since the India series has been very disappointing. It seems that if AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla aren’t firing, it’s a big problem. Who can they rely on in the top six to get a hundred? It seems like AB and Amla are the only ones.
I really have a problem with the rate at which South Africa have batted of late. I always say you can’t just bat to survive, like Faf du Plessis; you have to also score runs. Joe Root and Ben Stokes changed the game on day two because of the way they batted: they were positive.
They also gave South Africa opportunities to get them out. England should never have reached 300, instead we should have bowled them out for 150. We didn’t have a great bowling attack. Morne Morkel wasn’t used as he should have been and didn’t even take the new ball. While Kagiso Rabada is coming through nicely, I don’t think Hardus Viljoen is the answer.
He didn’t bowl well at the Wanderers, a ground he knows very well, and I think he will struggle on wickets that are less bowling friendly. The bowlers bowled too short at times and at that level it shouldn’t be so difficult to adjust your lengths. It shouldn’t be a problem at all.
What I really can’t understand though is why South Africa don’t have a permanent batting coach. How can they not? The role of a batting coach is to make sure the batsmen’s techniques are correct and work on their mindset so they can be more positive. Lance Klusener was asked to work with the tail-enders prior to the Durban Test but why has it taken them so long to get help for the top order?
I think they are losing the plot. The team looks flat and there’s clearly something missing. They need to sit down and ask some tough questions. Why are we losing so badly? Why are there so many batting collapses of late?
It’s critical South Africa get a result at Centurion. They can’t play much worse than they have been so far.