Proteas lost a test match to under par Sri Lanka team last week, in former’s home. Or I would rather say, Kusal Perera, snatched a win from overconfident Proteas. Either would suit the scenario.
In the end, it’s the pitch that receives all the blame (couldn’t find a better word) from Faf Duplessis, not the team. The pitch was defined to be a “piece of Pudding”, which wouldn’t have been preferred to play a sub-continent team. Ohhhh…Really? Probably, the underlying issue has more to do with the bowling than the pitch.
Let’s look at some stats, that may point back to the team, not a pitch.
Inability to claim No. 11
The last wicket played out 95 deliveries, of which 27 (~30%) were delivered to No. 11 batsman. This is about 1/3rd of the balls bowled to the pair. Still, the bowling unit consisting of Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn and Keshav Maharaj could not claim him.
Ever limping Vernon
South Africa lost Vernon Philander to a hamstring injury on the fourth day. The absence hurt other bowlers as their workload for the rest of the day was much more than they usually would have. Just for a stat, Vernon has recently missed at least one test match in each of the recently played test series, all due to injury. Subsequently, playing a test match with him is more of a risk than assurance. Several former Proteas members have criticized him for his fitness, but he still hasn’t improved on it. A point for Faf to address, which can also be about finding Vernon’s long-term replacement, as age is not by his side anymore.
Lack of Control
Of 75 runs scored for the last wicket, Kusal Perera scored 67 of them (Fernando 6, Extras 2) without playing a single low percentage shot to either of the four bowlers. This stat talks more about control from the bowlers rather than Kusal’s audacious batting on the day.
Probably, the most devastating stat for Faf (and he even talked about it in the post-match conference) was the ineffectiveness of Duanne Olivier. In the series against Pakistan, Olivier picked up 24 wickets at 14.7 a piece in just 3 test matches. However, he proved ineffective in this test match. He claimed only 3 (of the 19 Sri Lankan) wickets in a test match, at 23.7 a piece. This is way above his career average of 18.6. He seems unlikely to succeed where the pitch doesn’t have a pace, and that’s unlikely of a Proteas.