EDITORIAL | Proteas must learn to handle spinners

Proteas head coach Ottis Gibson
Proteas head coach Ottis Gibson
Image: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix

It did not take long for keyboard warriors to let the Proteas know exactly how dismal they were in the Test series against Sri Lanka.

Indeed, Keshav Maharaj’s nine wickets in an innings and Theunis de Bruyn’s second Test hundred were the only highlights of a series South Africa lost 2-0.

But before we bring the Test team home in a submarine with the windows open, it is perhaps worth considering a few matters now that the dust has settled.

Coach Ottis Gibson and his management team came under fire for their team selection in the second Test in Colombo.

To his credit, Gibson admitted they got it wrong by not including either Tabraiz Shamsi or Shaun von Berg as a second spinner to Maharaj.

He made a mistake, but did it cost the Proteas the series? Perhaps not exclusively when one considers that the batsmen just never pitched up.

It took four Proteas innings for a player like De Bruyn, who is fighting for his place in the Test team, to show his more experienced teammates how to make runs on a turning surface.

If there are fingers to be pointed they should be directed at the likes of Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, captain Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma.

Admittedly, Bavuma did contribute a half-century in the second Test, but he only scored 30 runs in his three other innings. But his series average of 23,25 was almost double that of Elgar, who had a dreadful time of it, as did relative newcomer Aiden Markram.

So yes, we lost the series, but what South Africa supporters seem to have quickly forgotten is that we have come off a summer where we beat both India and Australia in Test series.

Since then, the Proteas have lost the services of AB de Villiers, who was superb against those two countries.

But it must be remembered SA won matches without De Villiers when he took a break from the international game for 18 months and there is no doubt they will rise again.

They will have an ideal opportunity to remedy the situation when the five-match ODI series starts against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

Hopefully, by then, we will have further figured out how to counteract the turning ball.