Whatever the result of their series against India, the Proteas will be happy with their performances in the three tests in what has essentially been the beginning of a rebuilding programme for them.
So, let’s get the pluses out of the way first….
They have a world-class attack in Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj.
And their fielding has been excellent.
But their problem has been in their batting – and specifically their batting at the top of the order.
Skipper Dean Elgar has been gritty, if unspectacular, at opening bat. But his partner, the talented, but temperamentally wayward, Aiden Markram, has been the weak link for quite some time.
The Proteas’ opening stands have been wretched, mainly because of Markram’s failings – and this has put unfair pressure – every time – on those who follow at numbers 3, 4 and 5.
I believe in giving a batter, especially, a decent run in the team. But mainly the time has arrived for the selectors to decide whether Markram has had enough chances and whether he therefore deserves his place in the side.
The other weakness is in the key ‘allrounder’ position, where the team has struggled since the retirement of Jacques Kallis.
Could Rabada be that person? Perhaps, turning an occasional run getter in the lower order into a genuine batter could be a KPI for the coaching staff.
The other thing I liked was in the commentary box: I was impressed with the showing of Vernon Philander and Hashim Amla as commentators.
Here’s hoping more black ex-players will be given the opportunity to impress as pundits.