Faf du Plessis expressed his admiration for England’s balanced lineup, stating that superior all-rounder depth was a major decider in their 3-1 series defeat.
The Proteas were heavily outplayed by the hosts throughout the series, with their only success coming in the second Test at Nottingham, as England wrapped up the final Test with a comprehensive 177-run win at Old Trafford on Monday.
Du Plessis, in his post match presentation after the defeat, was honest about where things went wrong for his side, stating that ‘a combination of things’ hindered the Proteas throughout the series.
‘The quality of the England bowling attack was superb, they were relentless and as a batting unit we never really felt that we could get on top of them.
‘Obviously, from a runs point of view we didn’t do ourselves any justice and, there were [also] a few crucial opportunities in catches that we didn’t take.
‘What comes to mind is [the drop of] Jonny Bairstow in the first innings. We dropped him on about 50 and he got a 99, that’s about 50 important runs in this match, Moeen was dropped on five [he went on to score 75].
‘When playing against quality teams like England, those half chances you have to take if you want to compete with them.’
The Proteas skipper continued by highlighting what differentiated the Proteas from England, emphasising the lack of balance in the South African lineup.
‘With balance, we always try and play around with what’s our strongest team; seven batters or four seamers; but we don’t have the quality when it comes to balance like the England team has,’ he said.
‘They are very fortunate with all the all-rounders they have in their team.’
A major problem was the Proteas’ inability to convert good starts into big scores, an issue Hashim Amla raised at stumps on day two.
This time around, Du Plessis (61) and Amla (83) looked like they were ready to push on, stringing together a 123-run partnership, but they both failed to push on to score hundreds, something SA have lacked throughout the series.
England, however, always had a match-winner in their batting ranks.
‘I think that the real threat that they [England] have as a team is the fact that there’s always one guy that comes in and blows the game away from you.
‘We competed against them the whole match, [and] the way Moeen and Jonny play, they just take the game away from you and I think that’s their greatest strength to me.’
In the end, the Proteas lost the series 3-1 and the skipper congratulated the hosts for their consistency throughout the series.
‘Firstly, I’d like to congratulate Joe [Root] and the England side, they were well-deserved winners of the series, consistently they were the better team, so well done to them.’
Despite SA’s England tour being disappointingly unsuccessful, Du Plessis still praised the tour as a whole.
‘It’s a great place to tour, we love coming here,’ Faf said about England tours.
‘From a team perspective, we were very proud of coming over here…the last team that was here had a great series and we became No 1 in the world.
‘Three months in England has been a tough time for us. We came here for the one dayers before the Champions Trophy, seeing it as warm-up games, that didn’t go as planned and England won it.
‘Then we had a disappointing Champions Trophy and then tried to turn it around in the Test series and I thought at times we showed some really good fight. But consistently, England were just coming up with the answers all the time.’
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