That South Africa would have a tough time in the testing conditions of Sri Lanka was very much expected. The current South Africa team has made a reputation of being fragile against the spinners. However, their spectacular capitulation has surprised one and all.
Faf against toss in Tests
The Islanders thrashed the Proteas by 278 runs inside three days without really breaking any sweat. Faf du Plessis & Co. looked clueless against the Sri Lankan spinners.
In the first innings, they were bowled out for 126. Then chasing 352 in the fourth innings, the South African team did even worse and could score only 73. It is their lowest inning total since readmission in Tests.
“I’m a big fan of taking away the toss,” he said. “I think even in South Africa you’ll still prepare the conditions the way you prepare them now, but you just make sure that you bring some balance. In home conditions, teams will still win the majority of the games, but you still do even it out a little. I think over the last two or three years away-records have definitely gone down, and games are finishing a lot sooner than they used to.
“When I started playing Test cricket, 400s and 500s were happening quite regularly,” du Plessis added. “So I’m not just speaking about subcontinent conditions. In South Africa games hardly reach the end of day four anymore. I think that’s one of the ways you can make sure that balance is a little better.”
Du Plessis is not the first high-profile name to back a ‘toss-free’ Test cricket in recent times.
In 2016, former Australia coach Darren Lehmann had also given the same opinion after his team’s humiliating 3-0 series loss against Sri Lanka. The then skipper Steven Smith had lost all three tosses, and as a result, his side ended up batting last on surfaces that assisted spinners and struggled to put a good performance.
Faf du Plessis is not the first one to oppose though
Du Plessis, meanwhile, also spoke on his teammates’ struggle with the bat against the spinners.
“It’s just a case of our batters somehow trying to put pressure back on the quality of spin bowling that Sri Lanka have,” du Plessis said. “There’s two ways of looking at it. You could sit it out and try and bat for as long as possible, but you also need to put pressure on the opposition. There were one or two more expansive shots than we would normally play, but the thinking behind the batting was to try and put some pressure back on the bowling because they don’t give you anything. That’s the quality the spinners have over here.
“If you sit there the whole day you’re also not going to score runs. There’s an element of what is a medium risk, compared to a high-risk shot, especially on the wickets that we’re playing on, with the ball stopping a little bit more than we’re used to. It is lessons that we can learn. But we weren’t good enough in this game, and Sri Lanka showed us why they were better,” he added.