We started day 4 with the hope that Theunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma would pull off a miracle.
It was typical of the Proteas’ batting performances of late, that it was left to the inexperienced players to show the fight that we wanted to see from the senior players.
Things started out so well too, they put on 55 runs in the 1st hour, de Bruyn moved onto his maiden Test fifty and he batted with incredible application, grit and fight.
Bavuma at the other end showed what Bavuma does, he fights, and he doesn’t give up. No matter the match situation, he will try his hardest. That showed when he brought up his 11th Test match fifty. I have always been a fan of him, and I have always said that the criticism he receives is unwarranted. Yes stats are important but you have to look at the innings’ Bavuma has played in his short career, he has saved South Africa countless times. He deserves better recognition than he currently gets.
Bavuma and de Bruyn put on the highest 4th innings partnership in Asia, with their 123 run stand. They beat Mark Boucher and Boeta Dippenaar, who put on 101 for the sixth wicket in 2004 at this same venue. It was a testament to their ability to adapt to conditions, and play the correct type of innings that saw the Proteas make a team total of 200 for the first time this series.
Sri Lanka never gave up hope that they were just one wicket away from ending this resistance from the lower order of the Proteas batting, and that breakthrough came in the 2nd hour of play when Bavuma got a faint edge to the keeper to be dismissed for a terrifically played 63.
What was needed for the Proteas now was a good solid batting performance from Quinton de Kock. This didn’t happen, he lasted 12 balls only and made 8 runs. Kepler Wessels made the point on commentary that de Kock is more of an impulse player and doesn’t think very much when batting.
I think that is abundantly clear. Yes, the best way to get back in form is to hit your way back into it, but what de Kock needs to realise, and for someone with his experience should already know, is that you must read the match situation and adapt. His excellent keeping skills are sadly no longer enough to keep him in the playing XI. In this day and age, your keeper needs to bat, if QDK isn’t scoring the runs, he has to go.
In the midst of wickets falling at the other end, Theunis de Bruyn continued to show his class. He made his maiden Test century, in probably the most difficult conditions he’ll ever face, against a rampant Sri Lankan bowling attack. Having seen the senior players struggle, he was solid in defence, and played the patient innings. His century was the only consolation on an otherwise sad day.
I would hope that this innings has now cemented his place in the side. What more can he do to prove himself? This was the innings that made him.
The inevitable happened, despite the resistance from de Bruyn and Bavuma, once that partnership was broken, Sri Lanka got the final 4 wickets for 54 runs. The game was over before tea and Sri Lanka were deserved 2-0 winners, winning the match by 199 runs.
South Africa were whitewashed, and honestly, they deserved to be. Their batting is a mess, they have no game plans and they can’t adapt. Theunis de Bruyn learned after 1 innings how to play the spin. Elgar, Markram & Amla had 4 innings’ and they still had no idea.
This was the Proteas’ final Test until mid-December when Pakistan will tour South Africa. Some changes will need to be made before then, because performances like this cannot keep happening, and for me, the first change is Dale Benkenstein.