Things are really happening in South African cricket. In quick succession we have had the appointment of Graeme Smith as the first director of cricket (albeit only for a short while initially), Mark Boucher as the head coach and Jacques Kallis as batting consultant. In addition Charl Langveldt has taken over as bowling coach having shifted from Bangladesh. Surely with these names in charge South Africa’s fortunes will show an upward swing or at least that is what the authorities would want to believe.
South African cricket is in a transitional phase with the retirements of several stalwarts and this is borne out by results. The latest setback was the 3-0 clean sweep they suffered in India in October. This was on the heels of a major disaster – losing both Tests at home to Sri Lanka. South Africa have not won a Test since January, have lost five Tests in a row and their leading players have made little impact on the global stage.Quinton de Kock is the only batsman to score more than 500 runs during the year while Kagiso Rabada is tenth on the Test wicket taker’s table. The 24-year-old pace spearhead however has had his leanest year since he became a Test regular in 2016 and has not looked his best with his bowling lacking in pace and accurary and perhaps even motivation.
South Africa are ranked No 3 in Tests, No 4 in T-20 internationals and No 5 in ODIs, not a record they will be pleased with. They were also a huge disappointment in the World Cup in England. In addition they are at the bottom of the ICC Test Championship table, the only team without a point after playing three matches. It is a worrying situation but Rabada has tried to play it down saying “we can’t let the position in the table put pressure on us’’ adding that “we need to focus on the product and the byproduct will look after itself.’’
But South Africa cannot afford to wait and let things happen. They should make things happen and the new combo in charge represents their best chance to turn things around. Off the field too things have been messy culminating in the suspension of Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe earlier this month over allegations of misconduct and this has had an effect on the performances on the field. And then there has been the problem with the quota system which in turn has led to an exodus of South African players signing a Kolpak deal with English counties. This is another issue that the new regime must look into if South Africa hopes to regain its lost glory.