Protea Embers

Written by on December 20, 2019

With only days to go until the Proteas’ first Test against England at SuperSport Park, one cannot help but think that there is so much more at stake than yet another Test Match defeat!

The Proteas are currently on a five Test Match skid – a loss-streak that has only occurred once in their history when they went down in that back-to-back home and away series defeat against the Aussies during the 2005/06 season. The added pressure of new coaching staff as well as a new “interim Board” at CSA has many fans wondering if the epic decline since the 2-0 home Series defeat by Sri Lanka can be slowed, if not halted. Dare I say that I do not expect a packed SuperSport Park for the first Test of the summer!

Going into what ultimately proved to be a disastrous Cricket World Cup, where the Proteas finished a lowly 7th, it was clear that the then brains-trust had no clue as to what their first choice XI would be. The subsequent axing of national coach Ottis Gibson had many guessing whether Faf du Plessis would remain as Test captain?

It would not be cruel or unjust to say that cricket in South Africa is at a tipping point. Following on poor performances both on the field and in the boardroom and with limited options for the game’s long-term national sponsorship, this once proud cricketing nation is floundering as it once again rebuilds.

Now add to the mix the introduction of the Test World Championships and one gets the sense that even on the global stage, Test Match Cricket is struggling for relevancy deep in the shadows of both ODI and T20 success. What befuddles this writer even more is that where ODI and T20 success clearly show that fans have embraced these shorter, faster paced, more dynamic formats, the old codgers at the ICC remain resolute in creating a match format that is not only complex in its points application (depending on whether you are playing a 2-match or 5-match series), it requires purist fans to remain captivated for around 2 years before there is any outcome. WTF!

As many others have already remarked, I get the sense that this upcoming English Tour could be a memorable tour for all of the wrong reasons if you’re South African. Suffice it to say, I may end up glancing a few times at the TV in passing while on my way out to watch the grass grow, but I will most certainly not be holding my breath for a turn-around in Protea performance, after all this is Test Match Cricket and results are sometimes hard to come by even after playing for 5 days!

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