Proteas interim coach Malibongwe Maketa says the gap between his team and Australia isn’t “that big”.
The Proteas salvaged a draw in the rain-affected third Test in Sydney on Sunday after losing the first Test in Brisbane by six wickets and the second in Melbourne by an innings and 182 runs.
The 2-0 series defeat saw them drop from second to fourth in the ICC Test Championship, with just two matches against the West Indies to come in South Africa in February and March.
“The quality of this Australian team is there for everybody to see, and they give you nothing,” Maketa said on Sunday.
“They control their lengths very well and set their fields cleverly, so from an experience and quality perspective, I can’t say it’s difficult to gauge the gap because they’ve beaten us 2-0.
“How big is the gap? At the moment, it may feel big, especially with how we played in the first two Tests.
“However, I don’t think it’s that big. If you look at our bowling attack and you look at the fact that we competed here, I believe that if two batters put their hands up in the first Test, we were in the game.
“We would’ve needed a lead of 100 runs and our bowling attack would’ve thrived in those conditions.
South Africa’s current first-class system – which sees Division 1 teams playing just seven matches in a season – has been blamed for the Proteas’ woes as it does not prepare players adequately for Test cricket. Maketa, though, doesn’t think that’s the case.
“A lot of the guys at home are scoring runs, but I don’t believe that any first-class system across the world will prepare you for the quality of this Australian attack,” he said.
“That means your first-class performers need to be exposed to the next level to close the gap for Test cricket.
“I believe in exposing the guys who are performing at first-class level through South Africa A and this team to get a feel of what being at this level is all about.”