South Africa bowling nicely but batting fails Test

    Bowling like a man possessed, he’d taken 4-13 from 24 deliveries as Australia wobbled chasing 34 for victory.He’d knocked over Khawaja (2), Warner (3), Smith (6) and Head (0). You could almost hear a tightening in the Australian dressing rooms. You could see it in the middle. Batsmen were mesmerised and a little traumatised by his talent and intent.If he could get through the top order this easy, the tail was going to be a dawdle. It was extras that got Australia over the line and Rabada was left steaming and pawing at the ground with nothing left to bowl at.Rabada is a rare talent. Destined to number among the greats of the game when he hangs up the boots, his strike rate of 39.5 is better than Dale Steyn’s 42.3, better than Waquar Younis, better than Malcolm Marshall, better than Allan Donald and Mitchell Starc.Quietly spoken, thoughtful and articulate, he reflected on the events of the Gabba Test and admitted to a frustration that must grip all in the South African game these days.“Dean Elgar is our most experienced player followed by myself and Temba (Bavuma),” he said. “I’ve played 50-odd Tests and everyone else hasn’t played much.“It can get frustrating as well and when I say frustrating I don’t mean to single out the batters. It’s frustrating as a team and you ­almost have to understand that sometimes this is what happens in a rebuilding phase.“I’ve played in a star-studded line-up, where you are playing with greats of the game. I don’t think that happens quite frequently.“Now, the situation that we’re faced with, there are a whole lot of players who have come in, who have the ability but need to get used to the international circuit.“So, there needs to be an ­element of patience and understanding but at the same time, you can’t advocate for bad performances. However, we’re quite positive.”When Rabada made his debut in 2015 he did so alongside experienced hands like Elgar, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Vernon Philander and Steyn.What must be most frustrating for Rabada and co is not the talent that has left and not been replaced, but the talent that has left and found a home elsewhere.According to the website ­brokencricketdreams.com, 42 South African cricketers have played for other countries, and 21 of them are still playing.Rabada wouldn’t have had to look far to see the sort of talent his side is missing out on.Australia’s No.3 Marnus Labus­chagne migrated with his parents while still a boy after his father found a job in the mining ­industry in Brisbane.Michael Neser couldn’t get into the Australian XI but was on hand for the Test. Brisbane, like Perth, has a thriving expat community. A Facebook group called “South Africans in Brisbane and Qld surrounds” has 14,200 members.You can compile a pretty serious Test side out of the players South Africa has donated to other countries: from England take Tom Curran, Keaton Jennings and Jason Roy, from New Zealand Colin Munro, Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips and BJ Watling, throw in Ryan Ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe, who are hanging out with the Dutch, plus Curtis Campher from Ireland and you have a handy team.Seed it with Elgar, Rabada and Lungi Ngidi and you’re starting to hum. Maybe Quinton de Kock could be lured back from more commercially rewarding pursuits to add further edge.Elgar knew coming into this ­series that his batting line-up was lacking one critical ingredient.“I always bank on experience and we don’t have that at Test level,” Elgar said.Only two batsmen in the top six, Elgar and Bavuma, have played in Australia before.Only one batsman has more than a single century and that is the captain with 13.Bavuma has only one from 52 Tests, Kyle Verreyne one from 12 Tests, Sarel Erwee one from eight Tests, Rassie van der Dussen has played 18 Tests but is still a virgin and Khaya Zondo has a highest score of 36 not out from his three games.None of the South African batsmen have a Test average over 40 and their first-class averages are alarmingly low.Sometimes injuries can leave you shorthanded, but for South Africa is that is not the case here. Keegan Petersen could not make the trip but he too has only played 10 Tests and has a highest score of 82 at this level.Aiden Markram would have been handy. The veteran of 33 Tests has an average of 34 and has scored five centuries, the last of which was a 152 at Johannesburg against Australia in 2018.South Africa averages under 25 runs per wicket this year, the seventh lowest of any team in a calendar year, says ESPN Cricinfo.Inexperienced batsmen were not helped by a difficult Gabba wicket that was rated below average by the ICC and could have easily been rated poor, but hopefully things will be a little easier to handle at the MCG and the SCG.It is obvious where the wickets are going to come from, but it is hard to see how the visitors can break the run drought.

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