South Africa to Stick with Six Specialist Batsmen in Tests – Otis Gibson
South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson has admitted South Africa will stick with six specialist batsmen in the upcoming Australia series in March, despite batsmen poor show in the series.
Ottis Gibson changed the ploy of playing seven batsmen for the last four years, with the coach favouring a balance that allows them to field at least four fast bowlers. It meant there were four quicks and a spinner in the first two Tests, however, at the Wanderers they left out the spinner and picked up five quicks.
Although the extra firepower allowed South Africa to bowl India out in every innings, it was the same case when South Africa went out to bat. The hosts only passed 200 in half of their innings and registered just one score of 300 or more in the three-Test series. However, it was enough to seal the series in the first two Test with India winning the third.
Talking about positives, Gibson reflected on the team balance as one of them.
“We wanted to have four fast bowlers so obviously we left out a batsman, and that worked against the best team in the world. So that’s something we can look at going into the Australia series,” Ottis said.
Notably, no South African batsmen could register a hundred in this series. Aiden Markram’s 94 in Centurion was the top individual score, while there were nine other half-centuries.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a concern. It’s a concern when everybody doesn’t make runs, but if you look at the series as a whole, they were very tough batting conditions. Even in Centurion where the wicket was dry and a bit flatter they were still tough conditions. So not everybody is going to get a score but people got runs when the team needed runs, and that’s why we won the first two games,” Gibson stated.
Gibson further confirmed that work would be done with the batsmen to get their confidence up ahead of the series against Australia. Major work has to be done by wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock, who scored just 71 runs in the series at an average of 14.2 batting at No 6. However, Gibson is hopeful that change in format will change his fortunes with the bat.
Debates over pitches dominated this series. However, Gibson admitted they would play on good wickets against Australia.
“We will play Australia on good pitches. There are three games on the coast, so those pitches will be a little bit different to highveld wickets. I don’t know whether we should be telling people what we would like, but we’ll look forward to playing on good pitches,” Gibson added when asked about what kind of pitches he would like to play.
Gibson further stressed the Proteas could be proud of a 2-1 series against the No 1-ranked Test team.
“Three-nil against the best team in the world is pie-in-the-sky stuff. You want that, but we knew they were going to come back hard at us after we won the first two games and a lot of credit must go to them for the way they played in the third match. They were better than us, and they deserved to win. We’ve got four Tests against Australia to look forward to, and I think we’re in a great place to do something special again,” he concluded.
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