Sri Lanka v South Africa, 2nd Test, SSC, 5th day July 28, 2014

Much to be admired in South Africa's stonewalling approach

South Africa's go-slow approach may not have been attractive, but it was effective in driving the opposition to desperation. They never shook the belief that they deserved to take the series
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Play 06:10
Moonda: Amla's mind on the bigger picture

The day the Netherlands lift the football World Cup, Sergio Garcia triumphs in a golf major or David Ferrer is crowned Grand Slam champion, they will have a supporter in all of us. All three have been top competitors for significant periods but have not pushed on to the big prize. When they do, we will acknowledge that this time, after all that trying, they 'deserved' it.

Deserve - To earn something; to have a claim over it; to warrant calling it your own.

In sport, we often use the word 'deserve' incorrectly because we hope the person or team who we think has been more enterprising or shown more heart will win. If they do, we believe they earned it. On those grounds, we may feel Sri Lanka deserved more from the Colombo Test because, as even AB de Villiers admitted, they "played more of the cricket in this match." But we would be wrong. South Africa were the deserving ones: of a draw and of a series win because you cannot consider the SSC Test in isolation.

South Africa went into it 1-nil up in a series they were probably expected to lose. All they needed was to hold onto that advantage to claim the series and regain the No.1 ranking they let slip three months ago. If it was the World Cup final, they would have been the team that took the early lead and we all know what happens after that. Buses, fleets of buses are parked one behind the other. All that matters is blocking the way, not finding a new road to drive on.

Before the second Test even began, South Africa were gearing up for something like this. When Hashim Amla was asked whether he would be satisfied with a draw or if he would try to push for a clean sweep, he said the team would reassess after the first two days. By the end of day two it was clear South Africa had decided on the former.

They conceded 421 in the first innings so carving out a win, in the simplest terms, would mean scoring more than 600 and trying to bowl Sri Lanka out to avoid batting last. That meant they had to score quickly. South Africa ruled that possibility out by the way they batted: slowly. Their run-rate barely peeped over two an over, which they attributed to Sri Lanka's spinners and their unwavering discipline, but it could also have been because of a premeditated mindset.

After 98 runs were scored in 52 overs on the second day, it seemed inconceivable that this match would produce the tension that the final day brought. South Africa continued operating with surgical coolness and pragmatism, forcing Sri Lanka to get more and more desperate.

Sri Lanka were made to bat quickly, even recklessly, in their second innings to set South Africa a target. Then the captain Angelo Mathews had to consider how much was too much for a side that had, just seven months ago, threatened to make new Test history by chasing over 450 against India. Of course, Mathews would have known that conditions at the Wanderers were far more conducive to run-scoring than the SSC - especially the surface South Africa batted on - but he would still have been aware of South Africa's stubbornness. They had also seen off Australia in Adelaide 18 months ago. Like Sri Lanka in this match, that Australian side was also a bowler down, theirs through injury, Sri Lanka's because Ajantha Mendis was not offering much.

If that wasn't enough for Mathews to be mulling over, there was also the weather. Rain had stayed away from the first three days but had stolen 65 minutes of play from the fourth and more was forecast for the fifth. With all that on his mind, Mathews set a target which he felt was sufficient to put Sri Lanka on the victory path but against this South African side you never know.

That is what Amla and co. thrive on. They sprinkle the opposition's game plan with uncertainty. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers dealt with even the best deliveries, dead-batting them into the ground. JP Duminy, with his exaggerated stride forward and awkward shouldering of arms against spin, was content to collect just six runs in the match - three in each innings - and face 123 balls for that.

Once they get through all of that, there's Vernon Philander who can no longer be grouped in the tail. He is not afraid to go forward and smother the turn or stay back and try to swat it away. He trusts his own technique more than most top-order batsmen do.

Watching South Africa play when they are in this mood can become difficult. It is not immediately eye-catching especially in an era where Test cricket has become more aggressive. It takes patience. But like anything that takes patience, if you have enough of it, there was a lot to be admired in South Africa's approach.

They sat back and waited for Sri Lanka to make all the moves. Who to bowl, when to bowl them, to attack or defend, how quickly to bat, how many overs to give themselves and how many runs. None of those decisions were South Africa's to make. They made them correctly in Galle. In Colombo it was up to Sri Lanka to do the same and South Africa were happy to be spectators in that process.

In some ways, it was similar to March 2012 in Wellington - the third Test of a series South Africa were also 1-nil up in. There was rain around and South Africa seemed to have scored more than enough runs to push for a win but Graeme Smith waited what seemed like an unnecessarily long period of time before declaring. He did not even bother to dangle a carrot. Later he explained: "I don't think New Zealand deserved anything more."

There's that word again. New Zealand did not merit even getting a sniff, according to Smith because South Africa, he believed, had earned the right to win the series. It may not have been pretty or memorable but it was efficient and it got the job done.

Some elements of a team is judged by the way they play the game and South Africa's "negativity", as Kumar Sangakkara called it in this Test, may not have frustrated some. But the ranking of a team is judged by its results and South Africa are back at No.1. That is what deserve really means.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 29, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    Why bash the seemingly "negative" tactic to stonewall for the draw? Our spin bowling failed miserably in this test and basically closed the door for going for the win. If South Africa went out all blazing they would have gone down in flames and the comments would have been why did they do that. The more important fact that all the Saffer doubters forget is this - South Africa SURVIVED on a snake pit turner wicket against quality spin bowling. This is the real achievement here. This match, regardless of the dullness of the South African batting proved one thing - South Africa CAN bat against spin bowling now. That is the fact that made them No. 1

  • on August 3, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    At the rate things are happening in Test cricket lately we might see people admiring the stones and the walls in cricket grounds rather than the match itself.

  • Amol_Gh on August 1, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    The fact is simple...SA started their first innings of the second test at the end of the second day when the pitch had started turning, in SRL on an SSC pitch, against SRL spinners...after conceding more than 400 runs to SRL in their innings on day-1 and day-2 due to their fast bowlers (except Steyn/Morkel) being ineffective on this pitch and after...winning the first test. So SA were in no hurry and were playing wisely according to the situation. Comparing with no matter what some other team with a winning attitude would have done in EXACTLY same situation, would have been a case of isolated, independent, hypothetical comparison.

  • on July 31, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    @fan 1099. Everybody remembers FAF's heroics against oz. He saved a match. SA were outplayed in the last test and had to defend to keep a lead in foreign conditions. They would have lost the game if they went for the score. Now tell me what would you do if you know you have saved 2 games before like this. To win a series where you have for 21 years not won. I would block a 1000 balls to win. would you rather have the proteas loose the game like India lost today without any fight??? You then don't know South Africans. We fight with all our might.

  • 2nd_Slip on July 31, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Back to rightful #1. Well Done lads111

  • almeda_riddle on July 31, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    @fan1099

    To quote your earlier comment: "Though Chandrapaul also has been a tremendous player for Windies who do you remember most as a cricketer.It would be Viv richards..."

    Why don't you ask who you'd rather have in your team if the result mattered? I would rather have Chanderpaul, he is far more adaptable to any situation he's confronted with. Time has been very kind to Viv Richards's legacy, he wasn't a patch on his name-sake, Barry, or on Graeme Pollock.

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    @ Quinton jacobs. He starts by saying "SL's spin bowling failed miserably and basically closed the door going for a win". And in the last sentence he says"SA can bat against spin bowling now and that is why they became no 1". These two statements are completely contradictory. If we go with statemnt no 1. SA became no 1 because of SL's weak bowling.Then it is not due to SA's skilled batsmanship against spin. If we go with the second statement since SA can bat against quality spin they became no 1. In which case our spin bowling was of a high standard. So are we to go with the 1st statement or the 2nd?

  • on July 30, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding, are you kidding? When England stonewall to a draw the press, players and fans react as if they've won the game!

  • SLMaster on July 30, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    The reason many don't approve this stonewall approach is because 95% of the time it is not going to work. If SA were placed in the same situation again, chance doing the same is not great.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 30, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    When England stone wall they are called boring and unimaginative, when SA do it they are to be 'admired'.

  • on July 29, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    Why bash the seemingly "negative" tactic to stonewall for the draw? Our spin bowling failed miserably in this test and basically closed the door for going for the win. If South Africa went out all blazing they would have gone down in flames and the comments would have been why did they do that. The more important fact that all the Saffer doubters forget is this - South Africa SURVIVED on a snake pit turner wicket against quality spin bowling. This is the real achievement here. This match, regardless of the dullness of the South African batting proved one thing - South Africa CAN bat against spin bowling now. That is the fact that made them No. 1

  • on August 3, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    At the rate things are happening in Test cricket lately we might see people admiring the stones and the walls in cricket grounds rather than the match itself.

  • Amol_Gh on August 1, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    The fact is simple...SA started their first innings of the second test at the end of the second day when the pitch had started turning, in SRL on an SSC pitch, against SRL spinners...after conceding more than 400 runs to SRL in their innings on day-1 and day-2 due to their fast bowlers (except Steyn/Morkel) being ineffective on this pitch and after...winning the first test. So SA were in no hurry and were playing wisely according to the situation. Comparing with no matter what some other team with a winning attitude would have done in EXACTLY same situation, would have been a case of isolated, independent, hypothetical comparison.

  • on July 31, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    @fan 1099. Everybody remembers FAF's heroics against oz. He saved a match. SA were outplayed in the last test and had to defend to keep a lead in foreign conditions. They would have lost the game if they went for the score. Now tell me what would you do if you know you have saved 2 games before like this. To win a series where you have for 21 years not won. I would block a 1000 balls to win. would you rather have the proteas loose the game like India lost today without any fight??? You then don't know South Africans. We fight with all our might.

  • 2nd_Slip on July 31, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Back to rightful #1. Well Done lads111

  • almeda_riddle on July 31, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    @fan1099

    To quote your earlier comment: "Though Chandrapaul also has been a tremendous player for Windies who do you remember most as a cricketer.It would be Viv richards..."

    Why don't you ask who you'd rather have in your team if the result mattered? I would rather have Chanderpaul, he is far more adaptable to any situation he's confronted with. Time has been very kind to Viv Richards's legacy, he wasn't a patch on his name-sake, Barry, or on Graeme Pollock.

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 15:53 GMT

    @ Quinton jacobs. He starts by saying "SL's spin bowling failed miserably and basically closed the door going for a win". And in the last sentence he says"SA can bat against spin bowling now and that is why they became no 1". These two statements are completely contradictory. If we go with statemnt no 1. SA became no 1 because of SL's weak bowling.Then it is not due to SA's skilled batsmanship against spin. If we go with the second statement since SA can bat against quality spin they became no 1. In which case our spin bowling was of a high standard. So are we to go with the 1st statement or the 2nd?

  • on July 30, 2014, 13:56 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding, are you kidding? When England stonewall to a draw the press, players and fans react as if they've won the game!

  • SLMaster on July 30, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    The reason many don't approve this stonewall approach is because 95% of the time it is not going to work. If SA were placed in the same situation again, chance doing the same is not great.

  • YorkshirePudding on July 30, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    When England stone wall they are called boring and unimaginative, when SA do it they are to be 'admired'.

  • on July 30, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    SA almost lost the second test.. But saw a good battle between two teams.. This is what test cricket should be..

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 12:59 GMT

    To drive my point further let me compare 2 WI players Viv Ricahrds and S.Chandrapaul. In Tests Chandrapaul averages almost 52 and Richards only 50. Chandrapaul has 29 centuries whereas Richards has only 24. Though Chandrapaul also has been a tremendous player for Windies who do you remember most as a cricketer. It would be Viv richards. In the greater scheme of things there are much more important things than statistics/ranks. You will be remembered for the way you played. That is the legacy you leave individually and as a team. Those with vision would want to leave a legacy. Those who are short term in their mindset would go for statistics.

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    @Surly Cynic. Unfortunately no one is really talking to the point. Who said anything about chasing 400+. SA could have drawn the game but not by the extreme negative tactics adopted. SSC pitch usually does not turn on the 5 th day. That was the comment by Annold. It was not an unplayable pitch by any standard. @Grant King- I have said it before and say it again SA's current outfit is a tremendous one. They are better than SL. That is exactly why I am commenting that their strategy is not good. Also no one is commenting about the points raised by me. every one is talking about chasing 400+ etc which I have never mentioned.

  • SurlyCynic on July 30, 2014, 11:50 GMT

    @fan1099 - If you want teams to chase 400 in the 4th innings when already ahead in the series then perhaps don't prepare pitches that break up from day 1? I have no problem with SL preparing that pitch as they were behind in the series and desperate but once SA lost the toss a draw became a good result for them.

    It was a great achievement to survive on a pitch turning like that (Russel Arnold said he'd never seen a pitch at that venue turn as much) and no amount of sour grapes can change that.

    SA have also played fantastic attacking cricket when possible, like their last test in Perth (flaying Johnson and co for 7 runs an over for an entire session). Credit where credit is due.

  • on July 30, 2014, 10:46 GMT

    Still on about this. Series win and unbeaten away from home since 2006. Lets make sri lanka happy. Play carefree cricket and loose against them. Come play at cape town on a green track and try to survive 90 overs.

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    @Appu Dasa. You are spot on. Terry Packer started one day cricket because test cricket was losing spectator support due to defensive Test cricket being played during the period. If all test playing nations continue with the line of cricket SA are playing it will not be long before we pull the curtains on Test cricket. So the so called supporters of Test cricket should not blindly support this type of cricket without understanding the long term repurcussions. Test cricket is called the sport of" Glorious Uncertainities" and even compared to life. There lies the beauty of this sport. If the uncertainity is taken out by adopting zero risk strategies Test cricket will die a natural death to be taken over by 20/20 cricket.

  • on July 30, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    What is there to be admired in stonewalling? Then if such actions are to be admired, equally situations where players play for their narrow parochial interests with no room for the team interests too should be admired. It appears that Moonda has got it all wrong. Once the dust settles down, cricket world will only remember the crawl by South Africa, probably the worst crawl in the last 100 years. South Africa is a good team, but that does not mean their strategy is in the interest of the game. It showed that they are bad losers and wanted number one at any cost. Is that the right thing?

  • on July 30, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Well played SAFs. All those who are criticizing SAF tactics must go n watch 20/20 and Hong Kong Super 6s. This is the real beauty of test match. SLs also played superb cricket.

  • on July 30, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    @fan1099 How can you criticise South Africa for defending, i.e. batting with discipline, on the final day of a test match where the pitch is spinning square, and yet criticise Sri Lanka for not batting with discipline when the roles were reversed in the first test? You can't have it both ways. South Africa showed exactly the kind of discipline you wanted to Sri Lanka to show in the first test, except rather than praising them you're criticising them.

    South Africa played attacking cricket in the first test and set Sri Lanka a similar total for victory in the first test as Sri Lanka set them in the second test, the only difference is that South Africa were able to bowl out Sri Lanka. They have now lost the one day and the test series, yet you still argue with if's and maybe's that Sri Lanka could definitely be much better than SA. You're confused.

    To all the other more gracious Sri Lankan fans, well played, you have a good team, see you at the world cup.

  • ZainE111 on July 30, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    @fan1099 - You prefer SL's "way of playing" over SA.

    That's fine. I prefer beer over wine. You know what those preferences have in common? THEY DON'T MEAN ANYTHING. You can go on believing that SL's "way of playing" is the best in the world. The fact is that SL lost. They lost at home to a side they haven't lost to at home in 2 decades. So their "way of playing" didn't really help them, but you feel free to love them for it.

  • NixNixon on July 30, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    @fan1099 If SL was playing 2 tests against SA in SA, having won the first test in let say durban. Do you think they would be able to survive day 4 and 5 against philander, morkel , steyn at lets say Cape Town where the ball is seeming and doing a bit? And my second question, if they could hang on for a draw to take the series 1-0 would you not see it as an achievement.

  • on July 30, 2014, 7:17 GMT

    Quite a few of people on this board are rattling on about SA's regular negative approach. That opinion is just wrong

    Since the 2006/07 season Tests played 72 Won 40 - 56% Drawn 16 -22% Lost 16 - 22%

    So they draw 1 in 5 Tests. Some of those draws are caused by the weather. Some are heroic match saves.What % of games does SL draw?

    On the pitch SA didnt have a realistic chance to win so they chose to play for the draw. No-one has scored so much in a 4th innings chase at that ground so 1-0 up in a series they should try on a breaking up pitch?

    What SLcould have done was declare much earlier. That would have given SA more incentive and it would have taken some of the rain out of the equation.

  • Amol_Gh on July 30, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    fan1099: (" I still prefer SL's way of playing over SA.") You can prefer what you want, but it's just a reminder that now SRL has actually lost both Home/Away series to SA now. And just as you said, SRL bowlers really are mediocre.

  • Amol_Gh on July 30, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    On a flat-bed which transforms into a turner latter, spinners are effective, fast bowlers are not (Steyn being an exception). SRL in the 2nd innings faced fast-bowlers, not spinners. We could just say Tahir was non-existent for SA.. SA faced spinners on Day-5. So the comparison of run-rate is unfair for SA. Especially when SA started their first innings late on second day which was starting to turn, they were already on back-foot and had wisely decided to go defensive right from the first ball.

  • DaveFish on July 30, 2014, 5:07 GMT

    Well Play SAF ....if you listened to the pitch report from Hazy (an Ozzy) on the 5th morning, the game should have been over by lunch!!!!

    Again well played, and as Piet Divy would say "Its not pretty but Ill take it" SL should have taken their chance to bag the wickets

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    While I have critisized SA's overtly defensive style must also look at SL's weaknessess during the series. We had a fairly good chance of winning 1st test after day 4. But our batters gave it a way with indesciplined batting. In second test we should have declared earlier and may be tried few other bowlers. In that respect Mathews captaincy should be critisized. Overall if we can overcome those weaknesses (easier said than done) we could definitely be much better than SA. Finally I still prefer SL's way of playing over SA.

  • Prem2248 on July 30, 2014, 3:55 GMT

    demoralise confidence of opposition bowlers, one can't operate at these positions in missing, edging & lofting from the very 1st ball, with few proper strokes in the bags. The local media & other incompetent officials due to their ignorance may consider the performances of fleet-footed veterans on flat tracks are indispensable for the Team. The spinners used for these 2 matches too were very ordinary type with very ordinary school & 1st Class careers compared to other talented spinners (over-looked by the incompetent selectors). One has been tried since '99(in 1st or 2nd XI teams) thus he has become good bowler (not the best) from average. The other was originally brought to the side as a batter (ODI matches No2630, 2683, 2686, 2687) was now given a permanent position as a bowler. You need players of exceptional skills to win matches, maintained consistency both at School & Domestic scene but not those who perform on an ad hoc basis. Mendis is not the bowler for these slow tracks.

  • Prem2248 on July 30, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    As usual we find it difficult to win a series even at home since 2007, if there were any those were mainly due to the 2promising batters (&bowlers of exceptional skills) brought into the side with S'weera. 2youngsters batting skills alone wouldn't have found a place in the Team for them (one can bowl a bit, the other is a wkt-keeper) their performances too were hampered to a certain extent mainly due to the veterans reluctance to give their places to these future of SL. SL is the only country among all Test playing, that employs reckless hitters without proper control over their stoke play as front-line batters. The shaky batting of (3 out of 4) front-liners are main cause of our inconsistent performances in the International arena for the last 7-8 years. It is doubtful that local selectors would learn anything from having watched Amla's batting, at No 3, whom to employ at these vital positions. The batters at openers & No 3-4 positions should possess right technique and application to

  • on July 30, 2014, 3:40 GMT

    It was proved that the SSC pitch was not sleepy as some one has reported, as 1091 runs were scored and 36 wkts taken.Congratulations South Africa for winning the series despite a serious challenge by Sri Lanka in the second test. SA gave a lesson on how to survive in difficult conditions which would have been the other way around if SL were in this position. It was indeed good to see Mahela coming back to form with a big hundred and the reliable Mathews and promising Dickwella & Kaushal contributing to the cause, of course not forgetting Sanga's contribution in the second essay. Spinners Herath & Dilruwan bowled in an orthodox manner and were well rewarded. However, I thought Mendis who was drafted to the team was totally under bowled in the second innings as he needed a long bowl to meet with success. Mathews too as usual avoided bowling in both innings to add variety to the bowling dept. A really good one day and test series and hopefully SL will do better with lessons learnt.

  • fan1099 on July 30, 2014, 3:33 GMT

    @quinton jacobs. No one expected SA to go "blazing" considering the situation. But their run rate was slowest for this century.The pitch was turning but not a "snake pit" as SL had scored at over 4 in their second innings. Also SL did not possess "quality spinners" other than Herath. The attack was mediocre! Now SA had a formidable batting line up. The question is did SA bat like the team vying for no 1 position or some weak team batting against a top team. Top teams take pride in their abilities and make sure they perform also like that. Being defensive is ok but being defensive to the point of submission is not a quality a top team would want to display.

  • Sexysteven on July 30, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    No the rain was effective that save the proteas the blocking got the proteas in to trouble if it wasn't for the rain interruptions they would of loss that game they were very lucky they could of been more positive looking for runs and still played for adraw i think they would of saved the game more comfortably if the had taken that approach cos blocking and shutting up shop tends to get you in more trouble and at some point there will be a all with your name on it and cos your blocking a lot you and your team tends to have gone nowhere by the time the ball with your name on it come at least if your scoring you would have made some progress forward by the time you get that ball with your name on it I have no doubt the proteas will pay the price for the go slow if they try that to often in the future you can get way with it on the odd occasion but not every time your trying to save agame

  • on July 30, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    THats shows why australia is the better team than SA as the have to play on the defensive in more games while Aussies under Clarke's amazing captaincy would have tried and wont tht game and probably succeeded. Thats why Australia beat SA in SA through his superb attacking style

  • JaranNirsi on July 30, 2014, 2:21 GMT

    SA's focus more on 'not losing' rather than on 'winning' could be a legacy of the Smith era could be a reason for eventual denial of greatness to the team. Smith's comment on his delayed declaration to NZ appears mere obfuscation: his diffidence cloaked in NZ's not deserving anything more. The question should be instead: did SA deserve to win, or merely not to lose? The answer is self-evident: whether NZ deserved to win or not is a moot point; that SA lacked the courage to go for a win, and therefore did not deserve to, is not.

  • SoyQuearns on July 30, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    By the time they were 3/98 off 52, and even due to the events that preceded and shaped the style of play that led to that position, SAF had accepted a particular fate in this match.

    As they've shown over the course of the past few years (in particular), they are the leaders of this style of cricket.

    SAF just seem to be better at knowing when to 'pull stumps' on trying to win a Test match. Or, furthermore, they are better at application of this strategy once they've identified when enough is enough.

    They might not whitewash an opponent much, but they rarely lose.

  • on July 29, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    SA did what India are trying to do now. Draw. Because that's the result they want. What's wrong with that? Welcome to Test cricket.

  • on July 29, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    look who is talking. I am huge srilanka fan but isnt this the same thing they did in uae when they were 1nil up against pakistan but still lost. I think they should praise sa the way they won the series.

  • SLMaster on July 29, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    Well done SL, sending SA to the wall. SA folded in front of SL attack. This is the type of attitude & attack brings glory to SL. They may be 6th in ranking, but played as a No. 1 team. The positive and confidence within SL team is great to watch. At least, so far in this year SL is the best ODI and Test team to watch...

  • on July 29, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    Let them come to Indian soil some day, Their stonewalling approach will be tested on spinning tracks !

  • on July 29, 2014, 17:52 GMT

    i think what SA did was a great achievement, and their strategy came off perfectly for the 2nd test. Many people forgot that it is test cricket, not one-day or t20. There are 3 possible results, Win, draw, and Loss. So whats wrong to go for a draw, when the circumstances. i think it was a perfect strategy. and I mention again Draw is a proper result in test cricket, unlike other formats. There is nothing wrong to go for draw if situation persists.

  • on July 29, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    Great article Firdose

    South Africa are a champion side and have always been in world cricket. Their tactics are what any team would employ given the circumstances and all credit to them for winning the series . it's up to the team playing catch to take the initiative.

  • on July 29, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    re Waitara. What SA did WAS TEST CRICKET that's how you play it sometimes. It's cricket in its purest form with all its sub plots and complexities. It's not ODI or 20/20. SA played the conditions successfully. When the time comes to play more attackingly, they do that too.

  • on July 29, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    To those who are suggesting SA pitched up to draw, it's pretty obvious you have to play to the conditions. Even Mahela said they were lucky they won the toss. The pitch deteriorated extremely quickly and only one winner was possible after the first day. South Africa made a bold and aggressive declaration in the first test when they could, and again made the right call given the circumstances in the 2nd test. Amla's captaincy thus far has been excellent.

  • on July 29, 2014, 14:29 GMT

    After Donald we had Pollock and ntini and then steyn and Morkel and Vernon. After them someone else will come through.Our academy and school teams are not bad. There will be somebody who will stand up. We are still looking for that elusive spinner.

  • on July 29, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    This is from a Sri Lankan fan: Like many of us, I admire SA team , esp players like Smith, Kallis, Amla etc . SA is my second favorite team But becoming No ONE , by playing for a draw from the first ball....well not a champion stuff and certainly not fit for a great team like SA. If SA played their natural bright cricket from the beginning and lost the way halfway, then shutting the door is understandable.

    However, SL cannot blame the manner in which SA played for their own loss. SA won the first test as Amla declared at the right time and had a great pace attack who can take wickets on any surface. SL lost the second test primarily by not declaring at the right time . Since SA had indicated on second day that they will play for a draw , Mathews should have been looking for time not extra runs when the rain was predicted o 4t and 5thday. He is a good captain and hope will learn from such tactical errors.

  • waitara on July 29, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    Congrats to South Africa. Ultimately, though, playing like this (batting without trying to score runs) will bring the game down in SA. It may be good for the short term and for the number one ranking (which SA deserve), but not for cricket (or sport). And SA are too good to play like this. In any event, it wasn't a "series". No one believes two matches is a series, so stop calling it that.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 29, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    No.1 in the world again. So proud of the boys!!!

  • ZkAneela on July 29, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    @Pit Lee..You are right to some extent dear but if you remember Steyn was not as a brilliant bowler when He was playing with Pollock and Ntini.At that time the latters were the spearhead of the bowling attack but what happened after that, Steyn becomes a Super hero for SA.So I believe that there will be atleast someone who will play in Steyn boots hopefully.Atleast as a huge fan of SA i will keep my fingers crossed.

  • KW-SL on July 29, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    Congradz SA You did it again I still remember Jonty Rhodes did it in 1993 & saved the game in same venue if I'm not mistaken , great battle & full credit to them wishes from SL fan :)

  • on July 29, 2014, 10:58 GMT

    I look at Test Cricket & I see South Africa, England, India & Sri Lanka all in periods of some sort of transition. Given the age of some of their players I feel Australia soon will be. For SA to go & win in Sri Lanka is a huge achievement given they virtually have had to rebuild their top 3 & have lost a man in Graeme Smith that was not only an excellent player but an inspirational leader.

    SA's rise to the top, before losing to Aus, was built in no small part resilience & redoubtability with no small splattering of excellent players. They're the #1 team because they so rarely lose & have gone 8 years without losing away from home. In my opinion they deserve it at the moment.

    Sri Lanka played better in the 2nd Test, they feel they should have won & lets credit them for playing well enough to come close (not to mention winning in England) but let's not demean the massive effort it took for SA to secure that draw. At the end of the day, weren't SA just being clinical?

  • on July 29, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    if anyone said SA was negative, I must admit, he didn't watch the match, the condition, the deadly snake turning pitch where life becomes hell to bat on..

  • on July 29, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    You want to talk negative. Is it not negative to make pitches so bad that whoever loses the toss is almost disqualified from winning? That sounds negative to me. Batting a whole day to save a test that show character and will power.

  • ranpath on July 29, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    Kudos to the South Africans. Why risk your lead of 1-0 ? When you are ahead it is now the onus of the opposition to catch up to you and to paraphrase Smith you don't need to give them a sniff...

  • on July 29, 2014, 10:27 GMT

    As a South African cricket fan my entire life, I should be glad that we're back to No. 1 in Test rankings. But I'm not - we did not 'deserve' to regain it like this. In any competitive sport, playing for a draw (from the start of the SA 1st innings no less) simply is not good enough.

    If your aim is not to win, please, go home and save everybody the embarrassment.

  • gimme-a-greentop on July 29, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    @SurlyCynic...well said sir! The myopia among so-called 'cricket fans' can be annoying, but you said your piece in a rational, well-argued and convincing manner.

  • BellCurve on July 29, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    It is frustrating for players and fans that SA does not get the recognition they deserve. SA currently has two legendary batsmen in the making (Amla and AB) and an already legendary bowler (Steyn) in their line-up. In addition they have Philander, who is shaping up to be a bowling all-rounder that can be mentioned in the same breath as Botham, Hadlee and Dev. If he does better than expected, he could even join the elite group of bowling all-rounders that currently has two members: Imran Khan and Keith Miller. Then there is QdK, who is very quickly establishing himself as the hottest prospect in world cricket. At this rate he could even go on to beat Gilchrist's records. It is such an exciting and positive team. They are already ranked No1. Staying unbeaten on the road for 8 years is a massive achievement. It is well deserved and we all should be proud, regardless of the lack of recognition, which, as we all know, is simply born out of jealousy.

  • neo-galactico on July 29, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    @PFEL We all want the Proteas to be great but for them to get even close to that it'll require more than a change in attitude as you seem to think. Just because you play "positive" cricket doesn't mean you're the best. SA have limitations they'll need to resolve before they get there. For one, a good replace for 2 of our greatest players Smith and Kallis. Alviro needs to go with de Kock going on top, Hash goes to go back to 3, with AB @4 and 5 for Faf. Then an All rounder @ 7 like Parnell. Dane Piedt should get a chance as our spinner batting @ 9. Then we need to improve our bench strength, Abbott is good, perhaps Marchant and van Zyl should get a chance soon. Beuran Hendricks can offer variety with left-arm seamers . Until we get our personnel right and everyone knows and plays their role well SA will not be great but that doesn't mean they aren't better than the rest.

  • SurlyCynic on July 29, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    Every time SA achieve something, whether winning a series away or going to #1 there are the usual complaints from the usual suspects, comparing SA unfavourably to the greatest teams in history or complaining about not trying to chase nearly 400 on a pitch which was crumbling on day 1. We're used to it now.

    But some of those complaining should take a look at how their own teams have gone over the last 8 years, particularly away from home. And take off the nostalgia glasses and look at how even the greatest sides in history played out draws when necessary. And no, the Windies side of the 80s were not "complete", but they were better than other sides at the time and will go down in history as probably the best ever team.

    Instead of looking at negatives all the time I tend to appreciate the achievement of surviving on a pitch where I thought it was impossible. Just as I appreciated the bowling of Mitch Johnson over the last 12 months. Cricket is a game of many different skills.

  • fiddlerv90 on July 29, 2014, 9:08 GMT

    To those who say sri lank deserved something should bite a chill. They deserved nothing other than a defeat. SA made sure they were 1-0 up after every 1st-match in both tests and ODI. They always prove their positivity when it matters(unlike sri lankans) .. I'm even surprised sanga sees negativity in a team which was always 1nill up and that to me is positivity. SA played their hearts out to win both series and that is backed by their aggression when it count.

    If i recall correctly, SA bowled Lankans all out in less than 111 overs in their final inning in 1st test. To be honest, i don't think SA had to chase that target after what happened to Lankans in the 1st test.

    SA took 38 wickets. Sri lank took 33 wickets. If anyone still think sri lank deserved a victory must be lacking some knowledge of cricket.

  • on July 29, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    I think what most people forget is that which makes the SA team the best team at the moment - which is their adaptability, and the accompanied skill. This SA team can bat, bowl, and field anywhere in the world, against all opposition, in all conditions, and triumph. Name one other side that can do that? Sometimes it isn't the prettiest to watch, much like Graeme Smith's technique, but it sure darn is effective. And I find it immensely entertaining watching players master their craft, and win through sheer determination and grit. Well Done Proteas!

  • Romanticstud on July 29, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    South Africa by playing for a draw proved just as Australia have when they were number 1 on a number of occasions how a draw can be a victory ... It is like the time when in the 1999 World Cup Semi-Final ... South Africa looked certain to score the run needed for victory ... Lance Klusener was the most dangerous batman in the world at that time ... Just one hit over the infield and South Africa were home ... Australia won that game by drawing or tying it ... Sri Lanka had virtually won the game by the time Mahela Jayawardene had been run out at 385 /6 ... Hashim did what he needed to ensure there was no follow on ... that was the first milestone accomplished ... Then Sri Lanka had to get quick runs to force a win ... The weather helped South Africa secure a draw ... which could have twisted the test further if there was no rain ... Second milestone accomplished with the help of the rain gods ...

  • PFEL on July 29, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    @neo-galactico, I never said we didn't do a good job. Or that we aren't a good team. I just have high standards. I want us to be a "great" team like WI in 80s or Aus in 90s. And I feel like our no. 1 ranking is tarnished considering the team we just overtook beat us comfortably at home just a few months ago. When we beat Australia again, then I'll think we deserve it. And if we can learn to play more exciting, positive and eye-catching cricket that fans can really get behind (like Aussies, West Indies) then I'll be very happy.

  • HennopsRiverEnd on July 29, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    Great series win by the Proteas. Managed to do what most countries failed to do in recent times, another box ticked. Have no doubt that they will be ticking a lot more.

  • shane-oh on July 29, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    Well written. Batting to save a match like this is a dying art, but South Africa prove time and time again that it can be done, with the right amount of talent and resolve. You must respect them for this.

  • csr11 on July 29, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    this team truly deserves to be world no 1 - a rainbow team to represent the rainbow nation..

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 29, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    @Chiller38 Your statement saying that Day 5 presented and excellent opportunity for SA to win the game, tells me one thing and one thing only....that you clearly never watched the game.

  • gimme-a-greentop on July 29, 2014, 6:54 GMT

    Some really nonsensical comments here. If SA can only block for a draw, how did they get to no.1? It wasn't through drawn series. All the Aussies especially - your team is notoriously under-performing in the subcontinent, so don't think you should be commenting here. You can keep your 'exciting' 250 all out at 4 an over. Besides that, this is a batting line-up that contains two of the most attractive, stylish stroke-makers I have seen in many a year. The fact that they are willing to adapt speaks of their class.

  • Slevin7 on July 29, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @Chiller38 I have to say that my understanding and experience of watching test cricket is a world apart from what you described. A good chance of winning on the fifth day? The commentators were carrying on about how dry the pitch was very early and started to turn violently (their words) quickly. SA fought. They fought to win the series and they did it. They still lack a decent spinner and despite that came away with a win against some of the best batsmen in the world and a classy spin attack on home soil. Sanga's record shows he is an all time great and match winner. No one said this team is the greatest of all time. They are tough as nails though.

  • Amol_Gh on July 29, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    Critics tend to forget that it takes just a single ball to get out to. In SRL, against SRL on a Day-5, it would take quarter of a ball or so. But SA still survived 111 thrilling minefield overs...And SA actually beat SRL in SRL magnificently in the first test and WON the series. As for the Smith-NZL issue back then, Smith said NZL don't deserved to be given a sporting lifeline because NZL did not deserve so because NZL's bowling were NOT capable of running through that SA line-up. Then Why Smith should have been generous to them according to the critics, is beyond me.

  • henchart on July 29, 2014, 6:33 GMT

    @Rukshan Dharmadasa:If SA would become a hopeless test side with the exit of Steyn how can one describe SLK as a side with the exits of Mahela and Sangakkara?Pathetic would be the word I guess. Mahela has already left hasnt he?Instead of being a sour grape why dont you acknowledge that SA were the better team in this series and won it?

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    I find it funny of how the other teams are critical about SA cricket. They have beaten India recently, and before losing to Australia had beaten Australia twice in a row. From about 2007 to 2014 they have been the better team.

    Lets look at it this way, plenty of football games are one by a first half goal. Test cricket is about the series, a truly great team doesn't try and win a game against the odds if they don't need to and could risk the series.

    Lastly who the beep do you critics think that you are, it would be like a SA Rugby supporter telling a New Zealand supporter that the NZL tactics are inferior even if they are number 1. If you aren't number 1 your team is doing something wrong!

  • Mornecapetown on July 29, 2014, 6:17 GMT

    The Proteas WON this series against a very good Sri Lankan team through true grit and determination. The Lankans had 111 overs to bowl the saffas out and they couldnt. Not even with their great spinners on a spinners track. This show the grit and class of south africa. I for one am gonna miss that little maestro Jaywardene. Talk about grit and class....that's Jaywardene. It was a great Series and all the saffas should be very proud of the proteas and our new capt. Brilliant!

  • on July 29, 2014, 6:08 GMT

    It's not about blocking your way to a draw or simply always going for a win regardless of the circumstances and match conditions. A good team is one that gets a result more often than not and that's what South Africa does best. As from been one of the great teams, they still have a long way to go, but they have one thing that all great teams had, which is to fight for a result until the last ball is bowled. They might not look pretty doing it, but it's certainly effective. The South African's been labelled as a team which plays boring cricket, I'll take boring all day if it means getting the results more often than not. South Africa does it really well, which makes them good, not quite great yet. After all they haven' t lost a series away from home in 8 years, add another 2 years on that, then they will be labelled as great.

  • TheCricketeer on July 29, 2014, 5:48 GMT

    There is absolutely no shame in that draw. Seems strange that people would say so. I think SA are showing that old clique of "playing your natural game" being the best way. They have now on 2 or 3 occassions saved games where they looked dead and buried by basically totally shutting up shop.

    If you cant get the score there is no point in being 50 short. If you 50 short or 150 short it doesnt matter. Just play every ball with the least amount of risk possible.

  • neo-galactico on July 29, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    "Champion teams", "great teams", "win-at-all cost", "aggression" these are the words foreign cricket fans use to describe the "perfect team" this SA team has never said they're great. They're professionals whose job is to win, that they achieved. It's rather flattering that people need to mention the "great"Oz and WI teams and try to demean the Proteas achievement over the recent past. This team isn't great it has limitations which is primarily a good spinner, in fact it doesn't need to be. Their jobs is to win series, whether you admit it or not stonewalling in a match you can't win requires powers of concentration and skill. We'll see with the great Aussies fare against Pak in the UAE. In slower pitches attritional cricket can be necessary, adapt.

  • Scuderi on July 29, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    Be famous for winning, not for the times you didn''t lose.

  • legfinedeep on July 29, 2014, 3:56 GMT

    @JaranNirsi: the best team around but not the greatest? Okay, I guess most Saffers will take that.

  • JaranNirsi on July 29, 2014, 3:44 GMT

    Talking of great teams across different eras is always risky business. Bradman's 1948 Australians has been acknowledged to be the best of all time. But who know how they would have fared against Clive Lloyd's all conquering Windies teams of the late 70's and 80's? Or against the South Africans of 1969 which walloped Lawry's team, giving them a hiding no Australian will ever forget? Or Steve Waugh's Aussie team? Frankly, despite all its talent, this SA team lacks the mental aggrssion and courage of these teams, and can't hold a candle in terms of overall talent to their own team of 1969, it lacks a sound opening pair, a genuine world class all-rounder and spinner, and above all lacks the will to win. It's foremost skill is in saving matches it should arguably have lost. It may be the best team around (Clarke may have something to say about that) but is not a genuinely great team. It could still become one, though. We shall have to wait and see how it fares in Australia, first.

  • on July 29, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    @James C Birk - this south African batting can only block their way to a draw. They quite don't have the skills to win a test match by batting. However they do have a great Pace attack, but when Steyn is gone.SA are a hopeless test side with no firepower.

  • on July 29, 2014, 2:56 GMT

    I thought Winning a match is important to every side. But when SL blocked their way against Pak everyone said Mathews & Co are playing against spirit of cricket. But when South Africa does it in a very pathetically un sporty way it's showing off Patience by a top test side. Why so much hate SL?

  • Poholiyadda on July 29, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    South Africans were very lucky to get the benefit of the doubt always in their favour through out the final day of the match. In the only occasion the umpire gave the the benefit to the Herath when Du Plessis was given out first ball LBW the legendary hawk-Eye (according to the Cricinfo commentary) suggested the ball would have missed the stumps by few feets. Bad luck Sri Lanka.

  • OneEyedAussie on July 29, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    When you look at the big picture for SA - winning the series and attaining the No1 ranking - then of course it makes sense to sacrifice the test. But is there "much to be admired"? For the average viewer, I don't think so.

  • on July 29, 2014, 2:15 GMT

    An overview: This is game of glorious uncertainties as i have often used these words. Time back, Pakistan accepted a unique challenge and won a test over Siri lanka in an exciting finish. Yet sometime late 50s, there a test against West Indies where a Pakistan batter in an impossiblle back to the wall fight pulled through a draw while interestingly not a single person left the ground. Here the interest was to see an opponent bat almost three and half days to almost break batting record of great Donald Bradman. This is test cricket for what its worth. I have not followed this match, but is it possible that in bad weather condition they held on and survived and won the series?

  • AltafPatel on July 29, 2014, 1:44 GMT

    @Chullante' Jayasuriya You mean SL hadn't survived and won test series in similar conditions ?? Remember first test of recent test series in England ! Would have they not drawn in, series will be level.

  • AltafPatel on July 29, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    @Thomas Cherian You can't call Tahir lucky. Though he didn't perform well in recent test series, he is best in T20s and ODIs. Even far better than Ashwin, Jadeja, Harbhajan.

  • AltafPatel on July 29, 2014, 1:40 GMT

    SA took lesson from ODI and Test series that Tahir is bowler for shorter format, not for tests. Hope they bring Phangiso or other in next test series.

  • AltafPatel on July 29, 2014, 1:39 GMT

    @PFEL Drawing on such circumstances is never an easy job. Ball was roughly spinning and bouncing. It requires lots of skills and patience. It really Tests a team.

  • AltafPatel on July 29, 2014, 1:37 GMT

    In their last 3 series in Srilanka, SA won all those three. First T20 series 2-1 last year, and now ODI 2-1 and Test 1-0. What a remarkable achievement considering their extremely poor record on this soil. Congrates to all 3 captains Hash, FAf and AB !

  • on July 29, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    @ZkAneela, I'm not so sure now RSA has much to offer pace-wise after Steyn is done. Of course the spin is rubbish, but the pace is an issue, too, going forward.

  • on July 29, 2014, 0:37 GMT

    I agree that South Africa's first priority should have been to win the series. At the same time, Number one in the world is always kind of fluid; if you can't beat India in India, or Australia in Australia, you're not truly number one (awesome Australian teams always had 'the final frontier' of India in India hanging over their heads, and for good reason - Test cricket is all about winning away. Let's take a moment to pray we see Pakistan in Pakistan slotted back into the canon of Test challenges in the next few years). But I believe RSA has done both of those things at the last attempt; am I wrong?

  • on July 28, 2014, 23:16 GMT

    Firdose Moonda can take comfort in saying that watching SA play "when they are in the mood"can be difficult. SA were never eye catching, ever. It was the opposition which dictated terms, made the moves and did all it could to win, barring controlling the rain. SA did not sit back and wait.They sweated and hoped. Moonda has not factored in the stoppages for the weather. If not for the several stoppages, the result would surely have been different and the throne toppled.

  • Chiller38 on July 28, 2014, 22:49 GMT

    In terms of the premise of this article, I could not agree less. Great teams win games not spend a whole day building a brick wall in aspiration to mediocrity. There was a great opportunity for South Afrrica to win the game on Day 5. This is the second time in 12 months where a terrific opportunity has been presented and they have not had the ticker to go after the win. The way South Africa played Day 5 here is a great advertisment for the demise of Test Cricket. If we want this great game to survive we need teams who are willing to sacrifice a loss in the pursuit of victory.

  • on July 28, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    I have followed the Proteas a long time, and this is the first series win in Sri Lanka in that time! Its a big deal, and Sri Lanka put up a hell of a fight, esp. Sanga, Jayawardene and Herath.

  • Davidgold on July 28, 2014, 21:57 GMT

    I'm amazed that there is no criticism of Matthews for batting on way too long. This cost Sri Lanka the match. Anything over 300 would have been enough. And what did he have to lose? It's so disappointing place not losing about the drive to win.

  • __PK on July 28, 2014, 21:52 GMT

    I'm so glad this article mentions the near-record near-chase against India. That was a gutless piece of cricket, to get so close and not try, and so was this whole test, one which SA never tried to win. And don't forget - SA lost the No 1 position because their blocking failed them against Australia. No wonder noone comes to watch these guys play cricket.

  • JaranNirsi on July 28, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    Successful teams may be those that play within their limits, and stay safe. Great teams, on the other hand, extend their capabilities by embracing risk and overcoming the fear of failure to achieve improbable success . This SA team is successful whether they are great remains to be seen. They have the talent, but not yet the mindset.

  • on July 28, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    Tahir is one lucky guy. It is strange a nation with such talent cannot get one decent spinner even a Rasool from India is streets ahead of Tahir

  • PFEL on July 28, 2014, 21:23 GMT

    Is a draw better than a loss? I guess so. But I still very disappointed in our players giving up before the innings even started. I think praising this SA team is absolutely wrong, we shouldn't encourage such negative play. Where is the confidence and ambition that the world no. 1 team should have? The Australians would never have settled for a draw just to lock up the series result. I think we still have a long way to go, tactically and mentally, before we can call ourselves the real world no 1.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 28, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Well summed up by Iqbal. Know your strengths and weaknesses. SA don't have 3 quality spinners on a turning track. They have to get the best result possible with their limitations. A draw in those conditions, with those resources is an admirable result.

  • on July 28, 2014, 20:33 GMT

    As a neutral, I have to say this South African team is by far the most impressive around today, even if it isn't in the same league as (say) the great West Indian teams of the late 70's and early 80's, or the great Australian team of around 2000. The fast bowling attack has real venom, though Philander didn't have a lot of success in this series, the batting can adapt to any situation. Most of the bases are covered (a good spinner is still missing). A pity the current ICC deal means they don't play as much test cricket as they should.

  • on July 28, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    Great Teams are not those who wants to win every game but those one who knows their STRENGTH & LIMITATION. Like SA knows that the conditions are not favoring them to win this test match and they did what would be the best at the moment (a Draw)

  • ZkAneela on July 28, 2014, 18:41 GMT

    The ranking of a team is judged by its results and South Africa are back at No.1. That is what deserve really means.Very well said Firdose Moonda. And SA is just a decent spinner away from winning not drawing in any condition against any opposition.Hope they find a good spinner for tests soon.

  • ZkAneela on July 28, 2014, 18:41 GMT

    The ranking of a team is judged by its results and South Africa are back at No.1. That is what deserve really means.Very well said Firdose Moonda. And SA is just a decent spinner away from winning not drawing in any condition against any opposition.Hope they find a good spinner for tests soon.

  • on July 28, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    Great Teams are not those who wants to win every game but those one who knows their STRENGTH & LIMITATION. Like SA knows that the conditions are not favoring them to win this test match and they did what would be the best at the moment (a Draw)

  • on July 28, 2014, 20:33 GMT

    As a neutral, I have to say this South African team is by far the most impressive around today, even if it isn't in the same league as (say) the great West Indian teams of the late 70's and early 80's, or the great Australian team of around 2000. The fast bowling attack has real venom, though Philander didn't have a lot of success in this series, the batting can adapt to any situation. Most of the bases are covered (a good spinner is still missing). A pity the current ICC deal means they don't play as much test cricket as they should.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on July 28, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Well summed up by Iqbal. Know your strengths and weaknesses. SA don't have 3 quality spinners on a turning track. They have to get the best result possible with their limitations. A draw in those conditions, with those resources is an admirable result.

  • PFEL on July 28, 2014, 21:23 GMT

    Is a draw better than a loss? I guess so. But I still very disappointed in our players giving up before the innings even started. I think praising this SA team is absolutely wrong, we shouldn't encourage such negative play. Where is the confidence and ambition that the world no. 1 team should have? The Australians would never have settled for a draw just to lock up the series result. I think we still have a long way to go, tactically and mentally, before we can call ourselves the real world no 1.

  • on July 28, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    Tahir is one lucky guy. It is strange a nation with such talent cannot get one decent spinner even a Rasool from India is streets ahead of Tahir

  • JaranNirsi on July 28, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    Successful teams may be those that play within their limits, and stay safe. Great teams, on the other hand, extend their capabilities by embracing risk and overcoming the fear of failure to achieve improbable success . This SA team is successful whether they are great remains to be seen. They have the talent, but not yet the mindset.

  • __PK on July 28, 2014, 21:52 GMT

    I'm so glad this article mentions the near-record near-chase against India. That was a gutless piece of cricket, to get so close and not try, and so was this whole test, one which SA never tried to win. And don't forget - SA lost the No 1 position because their blocking failed them against Australia. No wonder noone comes to watch these guys play cricket.

  • Davidgold on July 28, 2014, 21:57 GMT

    I'm amazed that there is no criticism of Matthews for batting on way too long. This cost Sri Lanka the match. Anything over 300 would have been enough. And what did he have to lose? It's so disappointing place not losing about the drive to win.

  • on July 28, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    I have followed the Proteas a long time, and this is the first series win in Sri Lanka in that time! Its a big deal, and Sri Lanka put up a hell of a fight, esp. Sanga, Jayawardene and Herath.