Australia in South Africa 2013-14 March 6, 2014

South Africa face winds of change

Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper
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In one summer, South African cricket has lost 30 years. The retirements of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis took away three decades of experience and ended an era. Not just any era. South Africa's most successful era.

Before the 2013-14 season began, South Africa's Test side had lost only one series in eight years. That was to Australia at home. They had gone from Antigua to Auckland, and Birmingham to Brisbane, and did not lose for 14 series.

That run isn't as good as those of the great sides - Australia were unbeaten for 16 series between 2001 and 2005 and West Indies for 29 over 15 years - but it broke new ground for South Africa. It made them serious contenders to be considered among Test cricket's legendary outfits. They might not have the longevity, but they do have the ingredients.

Comparisons between Clive Lloyd's West Indian attack and this South African one began when Vernon Philander's rise completed a three-pronged pace battery. With Kallis as the fourth seamer, South Africa had the complete set, though they lacked a world-class spinner. But so did that West Indian team.

Comparisons with Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting's Australia for ruthlessness, however, could not be made with certainty. South Africa were known more for the art of not losing rather than the art of winning. They play hard but their aggression has not yet been sharpened to be as crafty or nuanced as Australia's. Still, when they wiped the floor with last summer's opponents - New Zealand and Pakistan - there were signs the killer instinct was awakening.

The defining characteristic of this South African side was resilience. It was their greatness. They learned conditions around the world, sometimes better than they did the ones at home, and developed a style of play suited to every location. They learned how to get themselves off the ropes and put the opposition on them. The ability to counterpunch is no less a skill than the ability to land the first blow.

Now, South Africa will have to stage their most difficult counterattack yet. This is the challenge Smith talked about 19 months ago, when his team wrested the Test mace from England. He said they would have to learn to stand firm when the wind came to blow them off the mountaintop. The South Easter has arrived.

The great sides of West Indies and Australia had more than one wave of success, and that is why they became iconic. South Africa need a second wave, because the first has washed ashore.

Not only are Smith and Kallis gone, the leader of the triad Mark Boucher went before them. Though South Africa rose to No. 1 without Boucher, who was forced into retirement before that England series by injury, they had been infused by his influence. Boucher remained best friends with Kallis and Smith and close to the rest of the squad. He joined them at training sessions and on team-building camps.

The other person instrumental for South Africa's successful team environment is also no longer a part of the set-up - their former coach Gary Kirsten. Like he did with India, Kirsten took a group of talented individuals and turned them into a winning team. He did that by allowing players the freedom they needed to become a family.

The majority of that family is still around, and they will have to fill the gaps left by the absentees. Dale Steyn has already put his hand up to do that. On the team's early morning flight to Port Elizabeth for the start of the Twenty20 series against Australia, following the Newlands Test defeat, he tweeted a picture with the captain: "Bouch, Kallis and now Biff gone! Officially the old man in the team looking after the new kids!" The photograph was of Steyn sitting next to Quinton de Kock. The young wicketkeeper was fast asleep.

South Africa's coach Russell Domingo spoke about his desire to see AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla and Vernon Philander use what they learned from Smith, Kallis and Boucher and become icon players themselves. De Villiers and Amla have already done that with their batting. Now they need to it through their leadership.

De Villiers already does to some extent as captain of the ODI team, and Amla does it quietly through example. That has its own benefits because as much as South Africa need to find a new core of seniors, they also need to find suitable personnel. They have already seen how difficult that can be, in the quest to fill the Kallis-sized hole.

Because there have been very few like Kallis in cricket, South Africa have had to try out different lower-order allrounders to find a replacement. It is too early to tell which of Ryan McLaren, Wayne Parnell and Kyle Abbott is the long-term solution, especially given Philander's ability to do a similar job in the tail.

Now South Africa have the additional task of finding an opening batsman, possibly two. Alviro Petersen is only just clinging on to his spot. Dean Elgar was fighting him for it, but now that Smith is gone Elgar has an easier vacancy to fill. The opening duo of Petersen and Elgar will not inspire the same confidence as Smith and Petersen, or Smith and Elgar, or Smith and anyone did.

It's that syndrome South Africa will have to get over. The only way to move on from losing Smith - and Kallis and Boucher - is to make a clean break. No comparisons, no longing for their return and no excuses. It needs to be balanced against making sure they get the appreciation and praise they deserve for their all they have given South African cricket.

When last spring sprung, nobody would have said with certainty that both Kallis and Smith were about to join Boucher and Kirsten as men who had decided the autumn of their careers was over. Domingo has already endured one winter of discontent in his first assignment as national coach with the ODI side, in Sri Lanka last August. He will not want another when he takes the Test team there this July under a new captain. Should South Africa come through that unscathed they can look forward to a good home summer. A summer of new beginnings.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on March 12, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    As a SA fan, i dont believe their are any fans that believe our team is as good or comes close to the two great teams of the past. but as the current best team who would you compare them to? re. new players coming in, i would rather take young talent than ageing experience. with dekock, van zyl, abbot etc i dont think the transition will be as bad as people think.

  • StaalBurgher on March 10, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    @Waheed_Vadi - I don't so much mind Faf being captain, but it would probably be with the understanding that it is temporary. Despite his 50+ average I don't know if Faf has the ability to ensure his place in the team long term.

  • StaalBurgher on March 10, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    Yeah... I said this almost a year ago. The challenge for SA will be when their old guys start retiring, like it is for any team. Can we replace them? The next tricky period will be when Steyn goes (bowler at 30), then AB and Amla (batsmen at 30).

    Unfortunately Alviro Petersen has blocked the pipeline for a while now. So instead of having a settled young guy to take over from Smith we have one seriously average opener with a new guy. Worrying because now we either have to have two new openers or persist with mediocre Petersen, who at 34 years of age can't be long for the playing field either. Well done SA politics you have caused a crisis up front.

  • on March 9, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    Now is not the time to look back and split hair who the the best team was. It is time to renew and look forward. I like the comments by Vadi, Creebo77 and Coetzee. Faf must be captain in all short forms of the game, but AB must be the test captain and WC in the short term. When De Kock is ready he can take over. AB and Hashim Amla are vital cogs in the batting line-up and should bat 4 and 5 with Miller at six and Duminy at 7. Why not blend the young Markram in now with Dean Elgar and Siaan van Zyl at three? Morne Morkel must start to get wickets or ship out in favour of Abbott. It is also important to have a left-armer i.e Parnell or B. Hendricks or even both if Morkel is not improving. Morkel must also work on his batting, he has become a walking wicket. It is painful to see him bat, even embarrassing.

  • creebo777 on March 9, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    Play philander as all rounder with 3 seamers,7 batsmen.jp duminy as spinner,de kock as keeper ,also bring in stiaan van zyl.best batsman currently in sa,morne morkel needs a bowling coach.

  • camcove on March 9, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    It's pointless asserting a particular side is or was the best of all time. It's hard enough with individuals, except that Bradman dominated as a batsman more than any other in any era. We can have some vague idea about sides we have seen and fantasise about particular sides playing each other. My fantasy tournament would involve the 1970 SA side, the 1973-5 Aussie side, 1 or 2 of the WI sides from the 1970s or 80s, one of the Aussie sides from the 1990s, the 2005 English side and the 2007 Aussie side. Sorry, Saffers, the current SA side isn't even in the same ballpark. I think it would become a function of the venue to pick a winner - in Australia or SA, I would pick the 1973-5 Aussie side, simply because Liillee and Thommo (pre-shoulder injury) were irresistible. (They beat WI 4-1, and that was the the WI side that went on to be irresistible itself). In England, the 2005 English were awesome. The challenger would be SA 1970. Of course, in India, any number of Indian sides. Such fun!

  • stevehobart1 on March 9, 2014, 1:08 GMT

    Excellent article. Firdose is NOT saying the current SA side compares with the great WI & Aust teams, but the potential may be there. To quote Dungar.Bob in an earlier article...SA inherited a power vacuum and it wasn't created solely by the Aussies losing their grip either. During the Aussies time there were at least 3 other very good teams running around. India with Tend, Dravid, Laxmann, Sehwag and Singh were a brilliant side. Pakistan with Waquar, Wasim and Ahktar were an awesome bowling side and then there was South Africa with Donald, a young Kallis, Kirsten, Pollock etc who were also very, very good. 3 of these sides declined at pretty much the same time. That's when SA took over. Who have they had to beat to stay there? nobody much. The rest of us have been rubbish..

  • on March 8, 2014, 16:18 GMT

    Make Faf captain.

    Bring in (experienced with a few years left in him) Cook as opener to help with the transition.

    Duminy as all rounder (remains on balance the best spinning option in SA)

    Either give De Kock the gloves or bring in Miller.

    And tell Morkel that he should be the one taking the wickets (He is at least as quick and nasty as Mitch, if not more so). Otherwise drop him for another wicket taker.

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    Continued: I also think that the travelling squad members should be future Test players who are being groomed into their roles. There is no need to carry around aging players who will never get a game anyway (Tsolekile) or over-weight average players (Kleinveldt) who will never make an impact! Look at how well the system worked with JP Duminy - he was carried around all over the world and groomed into a Test player. So when the opportunity came for his inclusion in 2008, he was ready to come into the side and make an impact!

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    Continued: On the captaincy issue, I would make Faf Du Plessis captain based on the fact that I don't think we should burden AB with 3 roles (batsman, keeper and captain). I feel that his batting would suffer and that is not what we want. He is currently the best batsman in the world by a mile and then some and the fact that he keeps wicket means that he basically assumes an allrounders role which allows us to play an extra batsman/bowler in the order. I also like Faf's temperament and think his leadership style will be a continuation of the groundwork which Smith has laid for the future leaders of this team. He is more of a natural leader than AB and I think that he would fit the role better at this point in time.

  • on March 12, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    As a SA fan, i dont believe their are any fans that believe our team is as good or comes close to the two great teams of the past. but as the current best team who would you compare them to? re. new players coming in, i would rather take young talent than ageing experience. with dekock, van zyl, abbot etc i dont think the transition will be as bad as people think.

  • StaalBurgher on March 10, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    @Waheed_Vadi - I don't so much mind Faf being captain, but it would probably be with the understanding that it is temporary. Despite his 50+ average I don't know if Faf has the ability to ensure his place in the team long term.

  • StaalBurgher on March 10, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    Yeah... I said this almost a year ago. The challenge for SA will be when their old guys start retiring, like it is for any team. Can we replace them? The next tricky period will be when Steyn goes (bowler at 30), then AB and Amla (batsmen at 30).

    Unfortunately Alviro Petersen has blocked the pipeline for a while now. So instead of having a settled young guy to take over from Smith we have one seriously average opener with a new guy. Worrying because now we either have to have two new openers or persist with mediocre Petersen, who at 34 years of age can't be long for the playing field either. Well done SA politics you have caused a crisis up front.

  • on March 9, 2014, 17:57 GMT

    Now is not the time to look back and split hair who the the best team was. It is time to renew and look forward. I like the comments by Vadi, Creebo77 and Coetzee. Faf must be captain in all short forms of the game, but AB must be the test captain and WC in the short term. When De Kock is ready he can take over. AB and Hashim Amla are vital cogs in the batting line-up and should bat 4 and 5 with Miller at six and Duminy at 7. Why not blend the young Markram in now with Dean Elgar and Siaan van Zyl at three? Morne Morkel must start to get wickets or ship out in favour of Abbott. It is also important to have a left-armer i.e Parnell or B. Hendricks or even both if Morkel is not improving. Morkel must also work on his batting, he has become a walking wicket. It is painful to see him bat, even embarrassing.

  • creebo777 on March 9, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    Play philander as all rounder with 3 seamers,7 batsmen.jp duminy as spinner,de kock as keeper ,also bring in stiaan van zyl.best batsman currently in sa,morne morkel needs a bowling coach.

  • camcove on March 9, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    It's pointless asserting a particular side is or was the best of all time. It's hard enough with individuals, except that Bradman dominated as a batsman more than any other in any era. We can have some vague idea about sides we have seen and fantasise about particular sides playing each other. My fantasy tournament would involve the 1970 SA side, the 1973-5 Aussie side, 1 or 2 of the WI sides from the 1970s or 80s, one of the Aussie sides from the 1990s, the 2005 English side and the 2007 Aussie side. Sorry, Saffers, the current SA side isn't even in the same ballpark. I think it would become a function of the venue to pick a winner - in Australia or SA, I would pick the 1973-5 Aussie side, simply because Liillee and Thommo (pre-shoulder injury) were irresistible. (They beat WI 4-1, and that was the the WI side that went on to be irresistible itself). In England, the 2005 English were awesome. The challenger would be SA 1970. Of course, in India, any number of Indian sides. Such fun!

  • stevehobart1 on March 9, 2014, 1:08 GMT

    Excellent article. Firdose is NOT saying the current SA side compares with the great WI & Aust teams, but the potential may be there. To quote Dungar.Bob in an earlier article...SA inherited a power vacuum and it wasn't created solely by the Aussies losing their grip either. During the Aussies time there were at least 3 other very good teams running around. India with Tend, Dravid, Laxmann, Sehwag and Singh were a brilliant side. Pakistan with Waquar, Wasim and Ahktar were an awesome bowling side and then there was South Africa with Donald, a young Kallis, Kirsten, Pollock etc who were also very, very good. 3 of these sides declined at pretty much the same time. That's when SA took over. Who have they had to beat to stay there? nobody much. The rest of us have been rubbish..

  • on March 8, 2014, 16:18 GMT

    Make Faf captain.

    Bring in (experienced with a few years left in him) Cook as opener to help with the transition.

    Duminy as all rounder (remains on balance the best spinning option in SA)

    Either give De Kock the gloves or bring in Miller.

    And tell Morkel that he should be the one taking the wickets (He is at least as quick and nasty as Mitch, if not more so). Otherwise drop him for another wicket taker.

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    Continued: I also think that the travelling squad members should be future Test players who are being groomed into their roles. There is no need to carry around aging players who will never get a game anyway (Tsolekile) or over-weight average players (Kleinveldt) who will never make an impact! Look at how well the system worked with JP Duminy - he was carried around all over the world and groomed into a Test player. So when the opportunity came for his inclusion in 2008, he was ready to come into the side and make an impact!

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    Continued: On the captaincy issue, I would make Faf Du Plessis captain based on the fact that I don't think we should burden AB with 3 roles (batsman, keeper and captain). I feel that his batting would suffer and that is not what we want. He is currently the best batsman in the world by a mile and then some and the fact that he keeps wicket means that he basically assumes an allrounders role which allows us to play an extra batsman/bowler in the order. I also like Faf's temperament and think his leadership style will be a continuation of the groundwork which Smith has laid for the future leaders of this team. He is more of a natural leader than AB and I think that he would fit the role better at this point in time.

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    Continued: Stiaan van Zyl deserves an inclusion based on the sheer amount of runs he's scored at a domestic level. His best position is at 3 and I feel that he should be put at number 3 and be given time to succeed at Test Level. Same goes for Miller as a number 6 - he's knocked the door down with classy performances in the sunfoil series and deserves a call up at this point. The scorebook speaks for itself and apart from that, David Miller is one of the most naturally talented batsmen in the country!

    There is absolutely no need to change an attack that has done well over a long period of time, so Steyn, Philander and Morkel keep their places. Parnell really impressed me before his injury and warrants inclusion on that basis.

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Continued: I feel that Alviro's time is done in the national team. He isn't providing us with a solid base when it matters. Even when Biff was in form, Alviro was not one to provide too much in terms of a partnership at the top. I feel he's a bit of a fair-weather player who only bats well when those around him are batting well (in general) and a bit of a 50 player - I often feel like he's a player who feels his job is done if he gets to 50. With his bad form, Amla has been in very early anyway so might as well push him up to the top and allow him to face as many balls as possible (like he does in the ODI team).

  • Waheed_Vadi on March 8, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Going forward, I'd look to use this Test Team:

    1. Hashim Amla 2. Dean Elgar 3. Stiaan van Zyl 4. Faf Du Plessis (c) 5. AB De Villiers (w/k) 6. David Miller 7. JP Duminy 8. Vernon Philander 9. Wayne Parnell 10. Dale Steyn 11. Morne Morkel

    Squad members: Quinton De Kock, Kyle Abbott, Beuren Hendricks, Rillee Roussouw, Ryan McLaren, Reeza Hendricks

    I don't think Quinton is ready for Test Cricket and I think it would be unfair on him to expose him to Test Cricket at this point in his career. Also didn't quite understand why he was called up to the squad for the PE Test - I thought there were others in the queue ahead of him and probably deserved a chance a little more.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on March 8, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    @Andries Bester Making the same point 3 times without anybody responding smacks of insecurity. At this point it's hard to believe that you even believe what you're saying, let alone anyone else.

  • on March 8, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    How can we talk about past teams

  • on March 7, 2014, 22:22 GMT

    Steyn for skipper! He's experienced enough and it's time that a bowler was a captain again a la Shaun Pollock.

  • on March 7, 2014, 19:55 GMT

    You all forgot about the super team SA had between 1970 and 1980....so don't come with your super teams of the past please!!!

  • on March 7, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    Well listen to all your Oz and WI history lovers...... Between 1970 till 1980 about when we SA were banned we would have dominated world cricket I think..... Players like Clive Rice, Mike Proctor, Allan Kourie, Barry Richards, Garth Le Roux, Henry Fotheringham, David Dyer, big Vince Van Der Bijl, Allan Lamb, Jimmy Cook, Kevin hooker McKenzie, Rupert Hanley, Peter Kirsten would have been a super team and I really doubt if any Oz or even the deadly WI team would have taken us on.... Sadly we did not play international cricket that time.... So don't go bragging of teams in the past please! And by the way we have beaten the Aussies 4-0 in SA in 1970 and all most of them were real heavy innings defeats... O yes and remember Eddy Barlow also, and few others that I can't even remember now.. All super world class players the world has never seem some of them.... O yes Denis Hobbson, tricky spinner!!

  • jw76 on March 7, 2014, 17:22 GMT

    If de Villiers is to be Test captain, is (or can he be?) de Kock a good enough keeper to take over the gloves?

  • SirViv1973 on March 7, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    The great WI & Aus dominated test cricket for well over a decade. Both teams were able to rebuild their side a maintain their position at the top of the sport, Aus managed to effectivley rebuild their team twice. I don't see how this SAF team can therefore be compared to these great sides. Although this has been a fine SAF team & clearly their best since re admission they have only actually carried the no1 ranking since 2012 and have in no way dominated in the fashion that those 2 great sides managed. I will be interesting to see how the rebuilding process goes.

  • Charlie101 on March 7, 2014, 15:08 GMT

    I guess AB is the man to take the test team forward but he will have a lot on his plate - captaining , keeping and maintaining his exceptional batting .

    He may have to give up the keeping which will weaken the team but SA will still be a very good side and difficult to beat

  • Matt.au on March 7, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta

    Jose, older blokes like you and I that witnessed the WI pace batteries, breaking bones, bodies and minds of opposing batsmen (think David Hookes for one) understand the courage it must have taken to continually face them.

    I'm sure the younger set on this site think there is no way the older bowlers were as fast as Johnson. They were and I suspect quite a few of them were quicker.

    The encounters between Au and that great WI side were thrilling. They were disappointing for me as Au came off second best 7 out of 10 times.

    The funny thing is, despite Au constantly being beaten (Au hosted the WI for 5 tests nearly every year, for years at a time) I didn't think I can't watch this anymore, I had to watch it to see if an Aussie batsman or bowler had a blinder.

    The day Lillee bowled Viv on the last ball of the day to reduce the WI to 4 for 10 or so will never be forgotten. Bouncer after bouncer at Viv then bowled him! It was super exciting to see Lillee rip through them.

  • JOHNCSPACE on March 7, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    SA are and have been a very balanced side. Consistent and dogged. like the article says...they play more to save a match than win. So success is not really a winning quality. We have seen many great comebacks, allowing opposition to set huge targets. With supposedly such good bowlers that does not fit the equation. So much of the play involves catch or playing just dead cricket ( like the last test against Australia some 600 balls for 100 runs) Sunny Gavaskar played like that. Catching up Or defending can happen with weaker teams like India???? Or in Adelaide. Not anymore the Australians played some good positive attacking cricket which produced a result. GSmith is history now...and I think a bloke like Peterson will make a good captain. Not de Villiers or fuf or anyone else"Peterson" has a good quiet way

  • Swerver on March 7, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    @ Leanne Bentley - "South Africa play for draws just so they can say they didn't lose. That is so lame and a sign of a losing mentality, not a winning one." ...seriously?! The last 25 SA series results before this past one reads: 1 loss, 7 draws ...and 17 wins - which is no where near as good as the ratio of the "Australia's dominant side of the late 90s and early 2000s" yes, but can also hardly have been the outcome of a "losing mentality". Besides which, the author (who I am loathe to defend) is trying to make the point that they actually don't compare to either of those teams yet, and that time will tell whether they have it in them to do so - "It made them serious contenders (!) to be considered among (please note: "among", not "the") Test cricket's legendary outfits. They might not have the longevity, but they do have the ingredients." It's unfair to bash the SA team because a journo dared to compare them to another team or two from the past.

  • on March 7, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    @ Matt.au on (March 7, 2014, 12:43 GMT)

    Exactly. Yes, that thrashing Lloyd and his otherwise formidable team got from Australia was one of the main triggers,for his resolve. Thanks, for filling in with the critical details. Nice to see cricket lovers like you remembering major miles-stones in the history of cricket and willing to share.

    Lillee-Thommo of Australia and Truman-Statham of England (a bit earlier) are two of the greatest hunting pairs, I can never forget, while all of us rave about the West Indian speed armada landing in distant shores terrorizing batsmen.

    I fully agree with you, that SA can TRY to do a Clive, by discarding their excessively defensive mind-set. But, one sad thing is to find that many tear-away new finds are gradually shifting gears to a run-saving mode! Alas!

  • on March 7, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    I think AB would make a good test captain, but I would prefer to see Faf become the test captain, as I have a gut feeling that he would make an even better captain and leader for the test team. This would also give AB the time to focus fully on his batting and make even more runs. But in any event these two will take SA forward into this next era of SA cricket.

  • Busie1979 on March 7, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    I agree that this SA team is not as good as Aus/WI, but I don't think the gap is as big as many people are making out. What has robbed this SA team of being equals with Aus/WI is the loss of so many quality players to England. Imagine if the line up had been this:

    Smith, Trott, Amla, Kallis, Pieterson, AB Devilliers, Prior, Peterson, Philander, Steyn, Morkel. I have little doubt that if these guys all played together, they would have been number one for a long time.

  • Matt.au on March 7, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    @ Jose Puliampatta - You said "So, it was a conscious decision on his part (and against some protestations by a few) to go with an all-pace hell-bent-to-win no-nonsense attacking unit"

    Let's not forget the WI side of '75 containing players C.Lloyd, V.Richards, Kallicharran Fredericks, Murray .Holding, Gibbs, Roberts, Greenidge were hammered 5-1 by Australia.

    The chief destroyers of the WI being Thompson and Lillee with Gilmour ably assisting with 20 wickets.

    Clive went home and thought if they can do so much damage with two super quicks, I'm getting 3 or 4 of my own.

    It just so happened that over the next 15 years he had the talent to call upon.

    Sadly Thompson broke his shoulder colliding with Alan Turner (both seeking to take a catch) and was never as fast again.

    SA could look at how the '75 WI rebuilt and rebounded without making a lot of changes to that '75 side. They became hungry and relentless.

    SA can do the same - if they find the art of trying to win first, draw second.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on March 7, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    @Wallaroo The real difference between the Aus and WI teams and this SA teams isn't really explained in this article, though. The statistical comparison is based on "not losing". SA have mostly tried to not lose with winning as a secondary thought during this period of "dominance". If you're trying to not lose and you're the better team, chances are you're not going to lose, but you're not going to win as much either. The WI and Aus teams didn't care about whether they might lose, all they considered was how to win, crushing teams left right and centre and leaving scars that lasted beyond that single match or series, and even stretched into the next generation of cricketers. The real comparison would be how many were won, not how many were "not lost". That's why they're great teams.

    @Chris_P Yeah, the WI being gentlemanly argument makes me laugh. Ambrose needing to be held back when he was barraging Waugh, anyone? Or Holding kicking over the stumps in NZ? Very gentlemanly, that.

  • WarVdm on March 7, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    Two candidates: Amla and De Villiers. Amla recently stepped down as vice captain, probably wanting to focus more on his batting, therefore, De Villiers should be named the Test captain. His captaincy in limited overs is imaginative, more 3D and it hasn't affected his batting at all. Being Test captian should affect his batting either. He is mature enough and for a batsmen, still young enough. Could (should) play Test cricket for the next 5-6 years.

    In order to lower the burden, perhaps Duane Vilas should take over the keeper role, and bat at number 7. AB has done very well behind the stumps, but Test captaincy will be an extra burden. Plus, having an excellent fielder like AB alongside another excellent fielder like Faf and AB not only will restrict runs, but will also help getting more "fielder's" dismissals that win you matches.

  • Protears on March 7, 2014, 12:12 GMT

    @Leanne Bentley - Yes we drew every single test match we played over the last 8 years *rolls eyes* your warped opinion on these Australian winners is probably the reason they have lost around 15 tests in 2 years. The inability to salvage a game from a no win situation or a series for that matter is the reason you lost so many games and series. I will exclude the whitewashes in india and england as that is a case of completely outplayed, but take our tour in 2012, had us against the ropes like Foreman had Ali yet in Perth a counter attack from Smith, Amla's 96 in less than a session and AB's 160 then Dale's last innings fifer was enough killer instinct. Or maybe our beating of England in 2012 to take the number 1 status or our last tour of Oz in 2008 chasing 404 or the Malbourne revival by Steyn and Duminy. You like Australians are living the moment, and that bandwagon will come to a crashing halt, as PE showed survivability is not a skill you have 9-90 in a session.

  • ozzystyle on March 7, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    No team comes close to the Aussies under Steve Waugh.

  • on March 7, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    It is ridiculous to favourably compare this South Africa to Australia's dominant side of the late 90s and early 2000s. Australia WON their matches. South Africa play for draws just so they can say they didn't lose. That is so lame and a sign of a losing mentality, not a winning one. As for comparing them to the Windies of the 70s and 80s... even more ridiculous.

  • on March 7, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    I do agree with many others that that WI team should be kept out of comparison in future also rather above comparison. I dont know how they played i was not even born then, but still i feel the awe just via stats. That must have been a hell of a team. This SA team if clung to the same performances as in the recent past even after these big holes left by such legendary players, they can easily be counted as good as or even better than Steve's/Ponting's Aus. But for that they have to really find a second wave, as aptly said by Firdose. How much i yearn for that God knows.

    Godspeed SA from here on...

  • arup_g on March 7, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    Testing times for South African cricket after they firstly lost their world class all rounder and now their leader and top order rock. After seeing South Africa's top order struggle against Australia, it's quite a worry to how they will dominate the world rankings anymore. A lot of focus will be on Amla and De Villiers to score the bulk of the runs, but they will need to replace both Kallis and Smith very soon.

    de Kock seems like an obvious replacement at the top of the order but I'm not sure about de Plessis any higher than 5 in the order.

    My XI would be - de Kock, Peterson (for now), Amla, De Villiers (c) , du Plessis, Duminy, McLaren, Peterson, Philander, Morkel, Steyn.

    For the long term though, they need to find a wicket taking spinner otherwise they'll struggle to certainly win in the sub continent with that XI. Duminy and Elgar can certianly do jobs, but should not be relied on to bowl 10 + overs each!

  • on March 7, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    Some young readers may not be aware that Clive Lloyd started his captaincy with an attack consisting of spinner/s too. But, it just didn't work. So, it was a conscious decision on his part (and against some protestations by a few) to go with an all-pace hell-bent-to-win no-nonsense attacking unit. AND... Did it work??? Wow! Did it?everyone knows the answer! It is one story which will live for ever. Even when Noah comes with his arc!

  • on March 7, 2014, 9:17 GMT

    That unbeaten in 15 years as a rating is a pretty much nothing statistic. They played 29 series in 15 years. Australia played 16 series in 5 years. And it wasn't as though the Windies were invincible- there were a lot of draws and a few losses as well. Most consecutive series wins is England with the Windies in 5th spot.

    Most consecutive Test wins- the West Indies comes in 3rd behind Australia (twice). Statistics can be twisted whichever way you want.

  • on March 7, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    SA is undoubtedly the best test team of modern era but can't be compared the WI greats and Ponting's Australian team. The problem is their pace attack is still not complete. if we look at the series against India, Indian top order batsman had played their bowlers very well and could have easily drew or won the series if they got atleast one fast bowler.Coming back to SA, Steyn is great but recently he is not up to the mark, Phil can't be treated as threat if there is not much swing in the wicket and Morkel though got good pace but not a thinking bowler.

  • Crik_Fan_boy on March 7, 2014, 8:50 GMT

    Agree with most of the comments here.. The current SA Team is nowhere near the Australian team... Lets not even go near the West Indies team, comparing this team to the team consisting of Gilchrist, Ponting, Hayden, Symonds, Warne, Lee and Mc Grath is outrageous at the least.. Even the current Aus team won against them in home conditions. TBH.. the aus team of that time made up without including any of these greats would still beat this team any day. The SA team terribly lack the skill and the instinct to win like the Aus team have. Hopefully they can build that going ahead with a new leadership and a new ideology..

  • on March 7, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    Agree with grinAR. Clive LLoyd and Viv Richards teams were the best in the history of cricket. They were unbeaten in 29 series over 15 years.The current South African team is the next best team with 9 unbeaten years away and 5 years at home. Australia comes third being unbeaten in 16 series between 2001 and 2005.

  • santoshjohnsamuel on March 7, 2014, 8:31 GMT

    SA have been phenomenal over the past 5 years, excellent at home and undefeated abroad, especially in Asia. Sure i was not the only one who wanted SA to scrape out a draw at Newlands. But much as i love Firdose's writing, i agree almost completely with what Biso wrote: The SA team still is at least a couple of rungs below the Aus team of greats, and that Aussie team is well short (far short in fact) of the WI greats. All of us love comparisons, but extending it to include the sides of Lloyd and Viv? Really strains credibility. Firdose herself provides an amazing statistic: unbeaten for 29 series over 15 years! But beyond the statistic how do you beat a team that had four Steyns (A spinner for what? Providing the batsman some peace of mind?), three bludgeoning versions of Amla, and a very scary version of De Villiers? Add to it a super wicketkeeper and a fielding side as good as SA's? What more? Please keep that WI side away from comparisons. We would need them to come back to do so.

  • on March 7, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Every team seems to be going through this transition. The only difference is that they are at different stages in the transition process... Australia being at an advance stage in the transition..., India in the middle..., and now South Africa gingerly stepping into that zone!

    I should give credit to the New Zealanders; they seem to be "re-fitting" their team into a new improved version, in double quick time; without going through the painful slow transition process. NZ are a decent bunch, and I hope, I am right about them, on this score.

    I am also eagerly looking towards the post Sanga-Mahela era for Sri Lanka.

  • Int.Curator on March 7, 2014, 7:08 GMT

    How much satisfaction can come from SA cricket intending to draw a game before losing or winning?

    Any outcome other than a drawn game, win or lose is by default!

    Being consider No1 by default can hardly be considered anything than below par.

    Cricket is a sport you play to win.

    SA need to change there tactics all they will always be remember for being No1 by default.

  • on March 7, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    A couple of minor corrections about the spinners of West Indies. It was two spinners Sonny Ramdhin & Valentine who helped WI to achieve their first win against England IN ENGLAND. Of course that was during the glory days of the famous THREE "W"s ; Worrel, weeks & Walcott.

    In the next era, they also had the lanky Lance Gibbs who could bamboozle even players who are brought up on a regular diet of spin bowling from the sub-continent.

  • Matt.au on March 7, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    I think you are being too kind to this current SA side in making comparisons with the past great sides of the WI and Australia.

    The fact that this Australian side (which is a good and improving side but far from great) could beat SA in SA as they did means the WI sides of the 80's would have easily accounted for them - with or without Kallis.

    Batsmen had to face the 80's WI pace battery without helmets. I think this modern day SA side, even using helmets, would have been asked too many questions by those fearsome batteries - that could use unlimited bouncers.

    Take their helmets away. I'm sorry, they would have bean terrorised and traumatised and easily beaten.

  • Chris_P on March 7, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    @GrindAR. 2 things, sunshine. The Windies were far from being gentlemen when they were under the pump, they were very, very nasty. & 2) Nothing wrong with sledging or talk, I been doing it all my cricket life, never hurled one bit of insult though. You got to walk the talk, it is part of what we do. In summer we play cricket, in winter we play hard contact physical sports like Rugby & Aussie Rules. Go watch some of these games to get an idea what we are on about. You need talent to win, pal, no amount of talk wins unless you have the talent to back it up. This is what makes us so competitive on the world stage, we compete in all spheres, summer & Winter Olympics (not bad for the driest & hottest continent on the planet) We've won Rugby World Cups, been to the soccer World Cups, Won dozens of Grand Slams in both Tennis & Golf, multiple surfing world titles etc etc etc, & with a population of 22 million, too. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion, isn't it?

  • stormy16 on March 7, 2014, 6:41 GMT

    Amith, Kallis and Bouch are huge losses but only Kallis is irreplaceable. One only needs to look at the talent in SA that cant get a game. Yes they need to come in and perform at the highest level but when you consider Abbot and De Cock were note even in the squad you know the next generation is going to be good. Amla and AB despite the lost series, had decent runs and this form the rock around which the batting will revolve. Faf and Duminy are steady hands in the top 7 backed up with Steyn, Vern and Morkel your looking at a pretty formidable line up all the same. Sure they lost to Aus but lets not forget this is still a great side going around. The captaincy could be a stumbling block SA. Its not something they have had to deal with for a long time and probably didnt see this comming and important decisions need to be made on the role of AB as captain, wicket keeper and batter.

  • Knighthunter001 on March 7, 2014, 6:27 GMT

    would love to see alma is Captain .. he has the temperment, atitude and the respect of all his collegues ... looking at the team .. dont think there is any other senior player other then AB who is fit for the role !

  • Biso on March 7, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    Comparisons with the WI team?? The SA team would not be rated anywhere near the Australian team of greats. And that Aussie team is well short of the WI greats. So, comparing SA with WI or for that matter Australia's best is taking too much liberty with ones fertile imagination. I guess Firdose is merely making an attempt to get the SA team rated through this forum. If any one seriously believes that Phillander. Morkel , Steyn and kallis are in the league of Marshal, Garner, Holding Roberts- or Croft/Sylvester Clarke/Ambrose/ and God knows how many unfortunate fast bowlers who could and could not make it to the famed WI teams( just because there was an overdose of them) that person needs a serious bias correction.

  • on March 7, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    now i want yo see how many series they won and how long they remain unbeaten why they always play 2 test series i did not undeestand yet

  • on March 7, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    South Africa will undoubtedly be knocked from their number one ranking - no South African has an issue with that - that's sport. All teams rise and fall. WI dominated for a while but haven't been there for decades now, Australia dominated for a while but haven't been there for many years now. SA have enjoyed a good patch over the last few years but will also be taken over by another team sometime. At the end of the day the rankings are nice and do show who is playing the most consistent cricket but as long as we're playing good competitive cricket then I'm happy to be in and around the top 3 or 4. Does this loss against AUS mean that AUS are now the best team in the world? Of course not - SA are still the best shown objectively by the rankings system. Aus were beaten every now and then during their reign as number one but that didn't mean they weren't still the best team in the world at the time. Aus still have to win MANY more games before they can claim the number one status again.

  • Cpt.Meanster on March 7, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    Great or not, SA played good test cricket for a while. They were the closest to a champion team in all conditions though they failed to beat India IN India. But then again, not many teams beat India in India which is why England's feat in 2012 was remarkable. SA have some decent players left in the tank but they are ageing. Dale Steyn will only get slower and older, AB De Villiers is already at his peak, Amla isn't the force he was 2 years back. Then you have guys like Duminy and Du Plessis who are relatively inconsistent at test level. Finally, there are youngsters like Elgar and De Kock who are untested in different conditions. Add to that, SA still don't have a quality spinner. So it will be tough for SA to replicate their successes of the past 4 years. They will still be a good team at home but I am not so sure about their overseas chances.

  • Wallaroo on March 7, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Tommy there are supporters and players from both sides that attack the other side so climb down from your high horse.

    Anyway we all have our opinions and mine is that greats come in all forms, South Africa are definitely one of the points on the Aussie / WI / RSA greats triangle because they have the records to prove it, 14 in a row over 8 years is a formidable record and IMO stand-out. To others this may not count and that's also okay. I understand that South Africa's game is known for playing defensively and the Aussies aggressively (which I quite frankly prefer) I also know that defense can be a form of attack and cricket is largely a mind game. Make no mistake defensive play can be one of the most aggressive tactics and form of mind games.

  • Lermy on March 7, 2014, 5:30 GMT

    Its highly debatable that SA will be able to maintain its current strength which is the last remnant of the old SA. The cricket playing population is leaving in droves due to Affirmative Action, pretty soon SA cricket will be at the same level as Zimbabwe.

  • Andre117 on March 7, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    @Vijayenridan23 Stephen Cook is 31, so he's not exactly "young blood". I say look no further than the under 19 world cup champions. There are some prodigiously talented players there including fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, all-rounder Yaseen Valli and opening batsman and captain Aiden Markram. People like Kallis and Boucher made their debuts at 19 and Smith became captain at 22, so I see no reason why those players can't make the move up right away.

  • India_boy on March 7, 2014, 5:17 GMT

    Good article Ms. Firdose, my thoughts exactly. SA have been great but not as good as Aus/WI of the past. They have not beaten India in a series in India, or SL for that matter. They don't evoke the kind of psychological fear that WI did. Even Aus used to win in all conditions, pace and spin alike. But SA have mostly won on the extremely helpful conditions (that too not against Aus as was evident in the first test). Another reason is that they play safe cricket despite having some of the most talented cricketers ever in JK, ABDv, Amla , Steyn etc. SA are also very technical like Eng but the difference is they have imbibed a lot of human element in their game unlike Eng. Go SA!!!

  • DaveFish on March 7, 2014, 5:02 GMT

    Chappell's Quote: Smith strong leader but tactically limited..... Dear Mr Chappell, look into the records and you shall find MANY amazing stats including the 5 year world record win streak of the SA side..... During that period.....WHO WAS THE SA CAPTAIN? Graeme Smith is the greatest captain SA has ever had and leads the WORLD records for hundreds, wins, runs, number of games captained because he has been the best at his job.

  • xtrafalgarx on March 7, 2014, 4:48 GMT

    What!? Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis being compared to A. Roberts, M. Holding, J. Garner, C. Croft? Give us a break please.

  • MinusZero on March 7, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    I was surprised at Smith's retirement. I thought for many years he would be up there with the highest scorers in test cricket. Thought he had another 4 years in him at least

  • on March 7, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    You are kidding yourself if you think this SA team comes even remotely close to the Windies in the 80's and the Australian side of 97 - 06.

  • Vijayendiran23 on March 7, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    Stephen Cook should open with Alviro. Why everybody have forgotten him. He has good record in domestic. He is the good choice. SA should inject young blood.

  • TeamSelector on March 7, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    Firdose, who is next in line for the captaincy? AB, Hash or Faf?

  • on March 7, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    SA hasn't beaten Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in almost 20yrs. SA is a great team in certain conditions but unlike Australia in early 2000s SA hasn't been a complete team in all conditions against all teams.

  • valvolux on March 7, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    South Africa will be fine for a good while, still think Smith should've stayed on...but I guess their schedule and lack of tests and a hopeful win against australia at home made his mind up, shame he didn't get the win. Abbott looks a good bowler, Parnell and Hendricks good variety options. Elgar to open with Petersen, De Kok to 6 to take keeping duties and AB as captain. De Kok was extremely nervous but is obviously raw talent, I think he could go on and break all keeping records.

  • Lakpj on March 7, 2014, 3:32 GMT

    In few months time they will go to SL for a test series. SL remains the only place where SA have not managed to dominate. With a crop of new players it will be very interesting to see how they go against a SL side which too has lot of new faces.

  • wizman on March 7, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    The new SA captain is going to feel like Ricky Ponting after the mass retirements of Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Martyn, Langer, (and within 12 months) Hayden and Lee.

    You cannot lose that much experience and class (Boucher, Kallis, Smith) in key positions and keep on sailing straight ahead as if nothing has happened. Just try to minimise the depth of the trough you are about to go through.

  • on March 7, 2014, 2:50 GMT

    It's hard to feel the vacancy of both Kallies & Smith… especially the experience...just to handle the situation… however there are few potential candidates to take the spot but at this point of time it's too early to say if they can achieve it… Anyways we should always hope for the best…

  • AH_USA on March 7, 2014, 2:38 GMT

    @Anurag Agarwal: I am not so sure that captaincy could impact ABD's performance as a batsman. Some individuals thrive under pressure, like Imran Khan, and ABD might just be one of them. He is one heck of a batsman, that is for sure. Cheers from a Pakistani fan.

  • on March 7, 2014, 2:23 GMT

    First it was Australia, then India and now it is South Africa. A generation change is what we are witnessing. It may take another 2-3 years to settle but by then these three countries would hopefully have a well settled core 8-9 players who do battle to establish the pecking order among these three. Sri Lanka is soon to join this generation transition too. Indeed we are living in interesting times!

  • on March 7, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Comparing with 80's Windies attack? Are you kidding?

  • Shongololo on March 7, 2014, 1:30 GMT

    Change is inevitable and we should embrace it as we have a core of top quality players to take us into a confident and successful new era. We need to look forward, not mope around lamenting recent retirements and searching for non-existent world-class all-rounders. Six batsmen, a wicketkeeper batsman, a bowling all-rounder and three quicks. I don't believe a side of Amla (capt), Elgar, van Zyl, de Villiers, du Plessis, Duminy, de Kock (w/k), Philander, Abbott/Hendricks, Steyn and Morkel will be any weaker than the sides we've fielded over the past 18 months. In fact, given the performances of the retired trio in their twilight years, I'd say this 'new model' is a better one.

  • SHER-A-PANJAB on March 7, 2014, 1:20 GMT

    Yes .New leader can make decision freely and can focus on future ( 2015 ) and CSA board must pay attention towards u- 19 team who played resently .they are so talented players they must change the shape of RSA cricket "future....Good luck !

  • on March 7, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    africa may take longer time like the aussies to build up a strong unit....smith provided a leadership of a 22 year old to a mature man..jus lik wht the pup is doin for aussies..

  • Crictragic1 on March 7, 2014, 0:19 GMT

    Wonderful cricketers you Rainbow Nation's Warriors! All the very best in re-building; just look around for a Graeme Pollock; Barry Richards; Eddie Barlow; Mike Proctor; Jonty Rhodes; Allan Donald...Jaquues Kallis - the list of greats is quite long; you'll find 'em.

  • on March 7, 2014, 0:15 GMT

    All the comments are forgetting two key ingredients:

    1. The captaincy must be pro-active and be in control rather than let the opposing side dictate the terms...and 2. Australia is the only professional side in world cricket. They don't drop catches, they don't give their wickets away cheaply and they can throw down the stumps from the outfield...and 3. They don't believe a side is out until all 10 have left the crease- Aust is by far the most well-drilled team in the world. That's why they win.

  • LoungeChairCritic on March 6, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    As an Australian supporter I have nothing but respect for this South African side. Two series loses out of the last 27 is impressive. Players such Kallis, De Villers and Steyn are a joy to watch & are probably up there with Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards as the greatest players ever produced by South Africa. I agree with Firdose comments that this team can't necessarily be compared with the great Windies side of the 80's and the Oz side of the late 90s and early 2000's. You judge a great team by the way they changed the game. The Windies sides of the 80's introduced athleticism to the game. They revolutionised batting, fielding and bowling. Rules had to be introduced to kerb their tactic's (over rates and limiting bouncers). The Oz side probably revolutionised the 50 over game just as much as they did test cricket. They brought professionalism into the game. I think they were 1st team to introduce specialist coaches & sports science. How many support staff do teams have these day's?

  • on March 6, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    At the age of 22, and at the end of hia career. He lead the team from the front. Great player and character. Wel done Smith. A PAKISTANI fan salute you. U will b remember always.a cricket legend

  • RAYKAY on March 6, 2014, 22:44 GMT

    Smith you did a great job as SA captain, you took the leadership as a very young man and moulded a good team, you have done your part, let the SA cricket board and Russel D make their best choice, farewell Mr Smith we salute you.

  • i-s-r-a-r on March 6, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    I agree with the points raised on why australia and WI are undoubtedly considered the most ruthless teams ever. They had a second wave which south africa needs to do and they were ruthless in dominating teams aroind the world. Like ricky ponting did after taking over from waugh, the new captain needs to do the same. The coaching stuff needs to get their act together too. It is hard to replace kirsten but the 3 days break after the PE win was too much. They shouldn't have relaxed this much.

    Regarding captaincy, faf du is the option. Ab had more than a couole of years now and hasn't really done anything remarkabke or shown anything remarkable. Faf du seems more upto the job.

  • on March 6, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    It is really important that the team not only represents South Africa but is also representative of (Nelson Mandela's) South Africa.

  • truthfinder on March 6, 2014, 22:25 GMT

    ABD should take up captaincy and leave the wicket keeping duty. It is vastly counter productive him being WCT keeper. Because of the workload he cannot bat early -- his ideal position should be #3. He is the best batsman in the world and the best fielder as well. Behind the wicket he's consistent but not spectacular -- there is no need at all there. Whereas if he fields close-in he would have been phenomenal catcher. SA dropped so many chances of Warner. AB must assume slip/FSL/silly point position. That will help a lot to the team. He must come at #3 (not Amla) to put SA in attacking position.

  • on March 6, 2014, 22:03 GMT

    Kallis would be pick in the World first 11 with Sobers as the two all-rounders. His retirement along Smith & Boucher will leave an enormous gap that will takes take at least 2-3 series to be fill. Their leaderships and experience will sorely be missed. To win TEST games, team needs batsmen to score run - starting at the top. When the top bastmen fail, most team fail. Smith & Kallis are great SA batsmen. SA don't have the ready openers available. Australia picked 3-4 openers and failed many times until Warner/Rogers partnership.. Rogers stats is not nor of Tests standard, he just hang on, because he takes stay for a long time to score some runs, this give the first drop to face the not so new ball to cash on - so far Doolan does not seem to be of test standard. When the top 3-4 are not stable, no test team can win regularly. Best of Luck to Sa and Australia on their way to number 1 - But I don't think they can last long with the current players with old & injured bodies.

  • Dirk_L on March 6, 2014, 21:11 GMT

    In the final analysis, South Africa made only one mistake -- failing to bat first in Centurion. The Mitchell Johnson scare may have been the reason for that, a misguided sense of history repeating itself may have been another, but when you win the toss in South Africa, you bat first. If it is overcast, you think about it for a while, and still bat first. In all three tests, the side batting first got 400 or thereabouts and eventually won. Smith won two tosses out of three. He could have batted first twice.

  • GrindAR on March 6, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    Please stop comparing the dominance of WI. They are the golden reference of dominance. Aus only managed to match 25% of it, which is by statistical numbers.

    WI are admired for their true gentleman character, where they openly and instantly appreciated and respected the opponents when they beaten. The world admired them for their skills alone as a team and individual players...

    WI were feared for the other teams lack of countering their skillful displays.

    For the matter of comparison, Aus were feared for only one thing... their sledging. When they were ruthlessly dominant team, they won 70% of their matches by sledging... they are the ones who created a fateful necessity for players who face then to be tough skinned more than their skills... Even today, they did not stop that... but world learned to be tough skinned... The good examples were, Dravid days India and SA almost throughout.

    When Aus played shutting their mouths on and off the field... they were tormented. So, back now

  • on March 6, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Amla might not be an assertive Skipper. Steyn, if given the additional pressure is likely to collapse, with his gifted rythm in Bowling. Since de Villers opted out of T20 Captaincy, may be due to extra load, the appropriate decision needs to be taken after due deliberations with the two and considering the Captaincy stuff and the rigour expected of a Test Captain !

  • Practical_person on March 6, 2014, 21:03 GMT

    Amla is a good choice for captaincy. I understand he was captain of the under-19 squad but on the other hand, he seems a bit too reserved and does not seem to engage actively with other team members which is crucial for a captain. ABD might be the best choice but it will add too much pressure. It was good that Kallis never became captain.

  • PutMarshyOn on March 6, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    There's still a lot to like about this Proteas side. When fit the 3 main seamers are 2nd to 1 (tee hee), and any side with Amla & De Villiers will always be a chance of making big runs. The question, as with the disbanding of the great Aust side in 2006, is whether the next generation are up to the mark. The answer then was 'no'. SA won't fall as sharply as Aust did, whilst Steyn stays fit that is. When he goes (& maybe the signs are there that the miles on the clock are taking their toll) there really will be tough times ahead. Philander isn't quick or tall enough when the ball isn't moving and Morkel, frightening as he can be, bowls too many loose deliveries at this level.

    Not that Aust don't have problems looming. How much more can they get out of Harris? How much longer will MJ be so devastating? What happens when Clarke's back has the final say?

    Fascinating times ahead.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    I'd say AB will stop wicketkeeping and take over the captaincy. But who knows, no reason Dale Steyn couldn't be captain.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    The writing on the wall was not chasing down the Indian total in the last test with 2-3 overs left. That was cowardly! The Australians would never, never have closed shop like SA did-it is all about creating a winning mindset and SA fell woefully short there. Hopefully de Villiers will promote positivity like Clarke does. Attacking cricket and bold declarations and confidence in the team to get the job done.

  • Kirstenfan on March 6, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    Alviro Petersen must go, and Robin Peterson. Let's hope Parnell regains fitness, as his variety is essential, else Hendricks looks great too. Feel like we need one more strong batsman, not sure Elgat could be that, maybe de Kock?

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    The difference here - the TELLING difference - was the degree of preparation/planning the Aussies put into this. They had a bowling and fielding plan for EVERY South African batsman. They knew how to get them out. They must've studied our bowling in depth, because at times we were "ordinary" in this department. Agreed, at times "extraordinary" as in PE. But the "ordinary" far, far outweighed the "extraordinary". Were SA just too comfortable in their top dog position, maybe? I think the Coach needs to supply lots of answers here. A new Coaching strategy is required as far as I can tell.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    SA is still a very good side but they will find problems in captaincy department as ABD cannot take such a big workload of being the best batsman in the team, wicket keeper and captain. Not the same as Dhoni as he is a finisher. If ABD is made the captain, I m sure his batting will suffer. He can only be a keeper or captain. Plus in the batting no inspires much confidence apart from Amla. Du Plesis is good for grinding a team but not an impact player. And they seriously lack in spin department. i see them finding problems in the subcontinent and England.

    Plus the T20 world cup is coming, it will interesting next six months for the SA cricket. I am excited and eager to watch the progress and strength of the team.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on March 6, 2014, 20:05 GMT

    This team is nowhere near the Aus team of the 1990's or the Windies - forget it. Why? Because those teams were ruthless. With Smith gone, we can now develop are more attacking, aggressive and positive approach to our cricket.

    I'm not talking about bad-mouthing and insulting players during the games like the Aussies do, I am talking about playing dominating cricket where your actions and positivity strike fear into the opposition.

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  • TommytuckerSaffa on March 6, 2014, 20:05 GMT

    This team is nowhere near the Aus team of the 1990's or the Windies - forget it. Why? Because those teams were ruthless. With Smith gone, we can now develop are more attacking, aggressive and positive approach to our cricket.

    I'm not talking about bad-mouthing and insulting players during the games like the Aussies do, I am talking about playing dominating cricket where your actions and positivity strike fear into the opposition.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    SA is still a very good side but they will find problems in captaincy department as ABD cannot take such a big workload of being the best batsman in the team, wicket keeper and captain. Not the same as Dhoni as he is a finisher. If ABD is made the captain, I m sure his batting will suffer. He can only be a keeper or captain. Plus in the batting no inspires much confidence apart from Amla. Du Plesis is good for grinding a team but not an impact player. And they seriously lack in spin department. i see them finding problems in the subcontinent and England.

    Plus the T20 world cup is coming, it will interesting next six months for the SA cricket. I am excited and eager to watch the progress and strength of the team.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    The difference here - the TELLING difference - was the degree of preparation/planning the Aussies put into this. They had a bowling and fielding plan for EVERY South African batsman. They knew how to get them out. They must've studied our bowling in depth, because at times we were "ordinary" in this department. Agreed, at times "extraordinary" as in PE. But the "ordinary" far, far outweighed the "extraordinary". Were SA just too comfortable in their top dog position, maybe? I think the Coach needs to supply lots of answers here. A new Coaching strategy is required as far as I can tell.

  • Kirstenfan on March 6, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    Alviro Petersen must go, and Robin Peterson. Let's hope Parnell regains fitness, as his variety is essential, else Hendricks looks great too. Feel like we need one more strong batsman, not sure Elgat could be that, maybe de Kock?

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:30 GMT

    The writing on the wall was not chasing down the Indian total in the last test with 2-3 overs left. That was cowardly! The Australians would never, never have closed shop like SA did-it is all about creating a winning mindset and SA fell woefully short there. Hopefully de Villiers will promote positivity like Clarke does. Attacking cricket and bold declarations and confidence in the team to get the job done.

  • on March 6, 2014, 20:31 GMT

    I'd say AB will stop wicketkeeping and take over the captaincy. But who knows, no reason Dale Steyn couldn't be captain.

  • PutMarshyOn on March 6, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    There's still a lot to like about this Proteas side. When fit the 3 main seamers are 2nd to 1 (tee hee), and any side with Amla & De Villiers will always be a chance of making big runs. The question, as with the disbanding of the great Aust side in 2006, is whether the next generation are up to the mark. The answer then was 'no'. SA won't fall as sharply as Aust did, whilst Steyn stays fit that is. When he goes (& maybe the signs are there that the miles on the clock are taking their toll) there really will be tough times ahead. Philander isn't quick or tall enough when the ball isn't moving and Morkel, frightening as he can be, bowls too many loose deliveries at this level.

    Not that Aust don't have problems looming. How much more can they get out of Harris? How much longer will MJ be so devastating? What happens when Clarke's back has the final say?

    Fascinating times ahead.

  • Practical_person on March 6, 2014, 21:03 GMT

    Amla is a good choice for captaincy. I understand he was captain of the under-19 squad but on the other hand, he seems a bit too reserved and does not seem to engage actively with other team members which is crucial for a captain. ABD might be the best choice but it will add too much pressure. It was good that Kallis never became captain.

  • on March 6, 2014, 21:06 GMT

    Amla might not be an assertive Skipper. Steyn, if given the additional pressure is likely to collapse, with his gifted rythm in Bowling. Since de Villers opted out of T20 Captaincy, may be due to extra load, the appropriate decision needs to be taken after due deliberations with the two and considering the Captaincy stuff and the rigour expected of a Test Captain !

  • GrindAR on March 6, 2014, 21:10 GMT

    Please stop comparing the dominance of WI. They are the golden reference of dominance. Aus only managed to match 25% of it, which is by statistical numbers.

    WI are admired for their true gentleman character, where they openly and instantly appreciated and respected the opponents when they beaten. The world admired them for their skills alone as a team and individual players...

    WI were feared for the other teams lack of countering their skillful displays.

    For the matter of comparison, Aus were feared for only one thing... their sledging. When they were ruthlessly dominant team, they won 70% of their matches by sledging... they are the ones who created a fateful necessity for players who face then to be tough skinned more than their skills... Even today, they did not stop that... but world learned to be tough skinned... The good examples were, Dravid days India and SA almost throughout.

    When Aus played shutting their mouths on and off the field... they were tormented. So, back now