South African cricket officials on Monday urged the country’s supporters to be patient with their struggling Test side after two heavy defeats in India.
The Proteas, rebuilding after the retirement of several senior players, were outplayed in every aspect of both Tests so far.
India clinched the three-match series when they won the second Test in Pune by an innings and 137 runs on Sunday. It followed an equally punishing 203-run win in the first Test in Visakhapatnam.
“It was always going to be a difficult challenge taking on the top team in the world –- certainly under their own conditions –- at a time when we have introduced a new team structure,” said Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe.
CSA fired previous coach Ottis Gibson and the selection panel following a poor World Cup campaign earlier this year and introduced a new structure, to be headed by a team director who would be responsible for all team matters who would report to a director of cricket.
Enoch Nkwe, a former player with a modest first-class career and a single, successful season as a franchise coach, was appointed to the team director role in an interim capacity, while former international player Corrie van Zyl was appointed acting director of cricket and interim convener of selectors.
Moroe also pointed to the number of top players who played a big role in making South Africa one of the top sides in the world.
“In the past two years we have had to bid farewell to some of the great names of international cricket such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn who between them played nearly 450 Test matches for the Proteas,” said Moroe.
“You don’t replace that kind of experience overnight and we need to give a new generation time to settle.”
– ‘Exciting times’ –
Moroe said he was confident that a young South African team would reward their supporters with improved performances during a home series against England in December and January.
“These are exciting times for South African cricket with new names and faces coming to the fore.
“Our talent pipeline has produced the likes of Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Zubayr Hamza over the last few years and our development systems are clearly in good shape,” he said.
Van Zyl said supporters needed to appreciate the quality of an Indian team which has won 11 consecutive home series.
“This is an Indian team that has been together for some time now and is well accustomed to playing in their home conditions,” said Van Zyl.
“I strongly believe we have the players to win games and the youngsters will come right.”
Former Test batsman and current Cape Cobras franchise coach Ashwell Prince responded to widespread criticism of the team on Twitter by pointing out the difficulties of coping with conditions away from home.
“I know we didn’t play well and it seems all doom and gloom,” Prince said on Twitter.
“However, I do feel that people don’t really appreciate how tough it is to win away series especially in conditions that’s foreign to your own.
“India for example, despite touring SA with batting line-ups that included the likes of (Virender)Sehwag, (Rahul) Dravid, (Sachin)Tendulkar, (VVS) Laxman, (Sourav) Ganguly, (MS) Dhoni, have never won a series in SA.”
But Prince added cryptically that there were “serious issues” in South African cricket that needed to be resolved.
“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats on da bus,” tweeted Prince.