Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Thabang Moroe has called on fans to show patience with the South Africa team as they trail 2-0 in the Test series in India, which comes after a loss in the T20I series.
South Africa made wide-ranging changes to their cricket structure following a poor performance at the World Cup, including the removal of a traditional coach role and the appointment, instead, of a football-style team manager. With several senior players also moving on, Moroe pointed out that the transitional phase was bound to be rocky.
"It was always going to be a difficult challenge taking on the top team in the world - certainly under their own conditions - in India at a time when we have introduced a new team structure," Moroe said in a press statement. "In the past two years we have had to bid farewell to some of the great names of international cricket such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn who between them played nearly 450 Test matches for the Proteas.
"You don't replace that kind of experience overnight and we need to give a new generation time to settle."
South Africa haven't won a Test in India since February 2010, when they beat India by an innings in Nagpur. In most Tests since, they have not even managed to push India, and the only non-loss was in a game that was washed out. They seemed to have turned a corner in the first Test of the ongoing series, with centuries from Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock helping them to a total of more than 400 in the first innings. But in every innings since, the inexperienced top order has collapsed and left them with little to fight with. It is symptomatic of a poor year across formats for South Africa, who also lost a Test series to Sri Lanka at home before the World Cup.
"These things take time and I am confident that we will already see improvement in our next Test series when England are our visitors during the festive season," Moroe said. "I am sure that our supporters will rally behind them on home turf. These are, in fact, exciting times for South African cricket with new names and faces coming to the fore. Our talent pipeline has produced the likes of Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Zubayr Hamza over the last few years and our development systems are clearly in good shape.
"There is a huge incentive on our young players to put pressure on the incumbents. There is nothing like good competition for places that brings out the best in all."
Moroe's sentiments were echoed by CSA's acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl.
"We need to appreciate the quality that is in this Indian side. This is an Indian team that has been together for some time now and is well accustomed to playing in their home conditions," van Zyl said. "I strongly believe we, as the Proteas, have the players to win games and the youngsters will come right. The team are constantly trying to find ways to win. It's not like they're not doing a great job with it. We believe in them that they're going to make the right decisions to do the best they can do to help us win Test matches."
The third and final Test of the series begins in Ranchi on Saturday.