Proteas captain Dean Elgar and outgoing head coach Mark Boucher both conceded that the lack of experience played a major role in South Africa’s 1-2 Test series defeat to England.
The hosts sealed an emphatic nine-wicket victory in the third Test to complete an excellent come-from-behind triumph at the Kia Oval on Monday. South Africa had comfortably won the first Test by an innings and 12 runs last month, with the home side hitting back with a handsome win in the second Test which they claimed by an innings and 85 runs in Manchester.
They were on top for most of the decisive Test too – clash that was effectively a three-day match after day one was washed out and day two suspended following the death of Queen Elizabeth II – dismissing the Proteas for poor scores of 118 and 169. “I think lack of experience and lack of exposure to Test cricket (played a part),” Elgar said afterwards.
“The lack of exposure to UK conditions with the ball swinging and nipping. We were also exposed to the type of batting conditions in this Test especially where the ball was nipping quite a lot.
“It was up there with some of the toughest conditions I’ve faced and I have a relatively decent amount of experience. So I can only imagine how a guy who only has one or two Test under his belt must feel. It was tough all around.”
The South Africans faced just 92.4 overs in the third Test after, with skipper Elgar’s 36 their highest score of the match. In the series overall, Marco Jansen, one of the few shining lights for the tourists, averaged the highest with the bat 27.33 – outshining all the specialists in the team. Coach Boucher admitted it was not a good series for the batters. “We always knew we would be under pressure if the conditions went around a bit,” he explained. “I think in South Africa the conditions are not the same. The ball doesn’t swing, the contact points are a little bit different.
I know there’s talk of experience and that, but these batters that are here have consistently been the best batters in our country.
“If you have a look at the last top seven batters that came to England and won the last series, I think between them there were 470 odd Test matches, that’s between the top seven. In this series, 10 of the batters used to bat in the top seven, they’re on 170. “So there is a big difference and the only way you get experience is by going out there and playing. We’ve back guys to play in quite a few Test matches, in conditions where the ball went around a bit, but they haven’t come off and that’s unfortunate.”
The result of the England series leaves the Proteas in second place on the ICC World Test Championship table. The team will now break before reassembling later in the year ahead of their three-Test tour to Australia.