The Test series against England truly was tough going for South Africa. They looked fragile to say the least. And for once skipper Faf du Plessis, who also captained the team in 50 over and 20 over cricket, looked particularly vulnerable after the series defeat.
Well a lot has happened since then. One could almost say things are looking up. For one thing, a change of formats has done South African cricketers a world of good. So has a change of captain. Quinton De Kock’s captaincy, originally to cover for du Plessis, has seamingly given the team a new lease of life. But we know now that du Plessis’s rest as skipper has been made permanent.
De Kock’s batting always has a carefree, effortless quality to it. How much that has translated into his captaincy is debatable. But this white ball side certainly appear to be playing in a more uninhibited fashion than the team which fumbled its way through the 50 over World Cup last year.
Another key player in the South African revival is Themba Bavuma who’s clean hitting gave South Africa an added impetus they’ve been sorely lacking of late in their top order. Yes, South Africa lost the T20 series 1-2 and the drew the 50 over series with England just before. But now there’s just a spark about them in white ball cricket.
None of this is to say England did not look impressive under the forever poker faced Eoin Morgan. Merely that South Africa’s performances under new captain Quinton De Kock has perhaps given South African cricket something of a new lease of life, and one so desperately needed since their funk over the last twelve months.
But the next hurdle lies ahead: a three match T20 series against an Australian side fresh from the Big Bash at home. That will be a truer indicator of the positives shown in the recent England series. For now it’s merely hope on the part of South African fans. However if the rumors are indeed true and retired superstars AB de Villiers and Imran Tahir do join with the squad before the T20 World Cup later in the year, then there’s plenty to hope for. And surely that’s what South African cricket needs most of all after the run they’ve had over the last twelve months.