South Africa would like us to believe that a key reason as to why they suffered such a humiliating loss to India in the recently completed Test series was because of an inexperienced team, forced changes and Kolpaks.
After the third Test loss, captain Faf du Plessis, when asked about players taking Kolpak deals said:
you are missing out on all your best players and your talent pool is all of a sudden a lot smaller
What message does that send to the players that were in the side against India? As the captain, he is saying they are not good enough to be there.
Inexperience is not the reason they lost the series and the sooner they are honest with themselves about that, the better.
Just remember back to South Africa’s Test win over Australia in 2016. That was a famous victory because they didn’t have AB de Villiers and they lost Dale Steyn in the first innings of the first Test.
That was a lot of experience and knowledge missing from the team.
They also played five inexperienced players. Before that series began, Stephen Cook had only played 3 Tests, KG Rabada played 8, Temba Bavuma played 11, Kyle Abbot played 7 and Keshav Maharaj made his Test debut in the first Test.
Despite this heavily inexperienced side, and all that experience missing, South Africa put in good performances with the ball as well as the lower order contributing valuable runs, and the odd top order century from Elgar (1), Duminy (1), Cook (1) & Faf (1) throughout the series.
Faf had a good series as captain, he was proactive and showed character. The team played together and there was passion and pride.
If they could do it then, why couldn’t they do it now against India?
While it is true South Africa had given four new Test caps in the series (Muthusamy, Nortje, Klaasen & Linde), and played inexperienced players like Zubayr Hamza in the final Test, it is not the fault of these players that caused the side to follow-on twice in a row and lose by an innings twice in a row.
The senior players need to take a long hard look at themselves and realise they are the ones that let the team down and they are the ones that didn’t perform.
The top order once again failed to set the team up with a solid platform in any innings, and the bowlers were terribly impatient and inconsistent.
Faf had a poor series as captain, he was unimaginative, unable to deviate from Plan A and the team suffered as a result.
Kolpaks and retirements have not helped, but Zubayr Hamza and George Linde have proven the talent pool is not dying out. Players like Kyle Verreynne, Janneman Malan and Lutho Sipamla are waiting for their chance to prove themselves, never mind Rassie van der Dussen.
Growth only comes from self-reflection and the Proteas will only grow if they can be honest with themselves about how they performed against India.
We know they can play better than what they showed in India. They need to start believing it themselves.