While we in India are used to problems in the system, it is heartening to know that these problems exist elsewhere too.
At the moment, one of the biggest issues in South African cricket is the racial quotas — an issue that is likely to blow up before the World Cup. But while that hasn’t been an issue for the Tests, it is simmering in the background, even as other issues have taken precedence.
Here are some:
1. A public breakdown in communication between the selection committee convenor Haroon Lorgat and the team management: People might recall the public mid-pitch spat between Graeme Smith and Lorgat before the Newlands one-dayer over the non-inclusion of Andre Nel.
There have been other reported differences and after the Wanderers Test, TV cameras caught another likely spat over player selections, during a discussion between Lorgat, Smith, coach Mickey Arthur and vice-captain Jacques Kallis.
Smith was seen hitting his head against a wall in frustration. Lorgat hasn’t been too subtle either, during the post match press conference at Johannesburg, asked about whether Herschelle Gibbs’s lack of form meant his place in the side was under threat, Lorgat said, “it’s not just Herschelle, it’s Grae…” then stopped and said the openers’ form was worrying but he had faith etc.
The damage was done though. The selection policies and lack of communication have also led to Nicky Boje quitting international cricket.
2. The decision to not have the batsmen play domestic games: The South African selectors apparently, have been so worried about player injuries with an eye to the World Cup (and Pakistan come here after India), that they told their players to skip the domestic games that would probably have given them much-needed time in the middle.
The Proteas have already had a truncated season this year, mostly one-day in any case and the lack of longer version practice showed in the Test. The World Cup comes later, there’s still a season to get through!
3. The top order woes: This should be a familiar problem to Indians who have seen India’s own top order collapse in match after match. While the South African middle and depth in batting saw them through the limited overs games, Tests are a whole new ball game and Gibbs and Smith are under pressure to fire.
Smith especially, should be worried — he is okay for now but despite being contracted as skipper till the World Cup, a consistently bad performance could see his captaincy and place under the scanner.