Graeme Smith, who retired from international cricket in 2014, was clearly worried about the future of South Africa cricket. He feels that India’s dominance in the ongoing ODI series doesn’t bode well for the future, especially since so many youngsters have been handed an opportunity in the absence of experienced players like AB de Villiers, Du Plessis and De Kock. However, these players have failed to take the opportunity as the South African currently trails India 3-0 in a 6 match series.
South Africa Cricket need to develop youngsters
Former South African captain Graeme Smith was part of the recently-concluded Ice Cricket Challenge in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The unique event has brought together recently retired star players together and hence has become a hub of opinions and discussion.
“India team is very deservingly 3-0 up in the series. While South Africa have lost three key players (AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock) to injuries but it also showed that next generation of South African cricketers is not quite ready to take it on. I think Cricket South Africa needs to think how they would want to blood and develop the youngsters in order to get them up to the level where they can perform,” Graeme Smith told PTI in St. Moritz.
Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav & Virat Kohli wreaking havoc on South Africa
Just the domination of the Indian spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, along with the ease in batting that Kohli is experiencing, troubles Graeme Smith, who has played 117 test matches for his country.
One of the most successful captains to have played the game, Graeme Smith is clear that this series could have a lasting effect, especially in this phase when the countries national team is going through a transition. He said,
“At the moment, it looks like a big series loss for the team and it could be disappointing. Post-2019 (World Cup), I think we would lose a couple of players (like AB de Villiers) and this series, in particular, showed that next level of players have a lot of work to do in order to get up to the standards where they can at least be competitive.”
“I think SA cricket will have to really plan as to how they are looking to blood youngsters. Maybe keep them in the system (academy or domestic cricket) a bit longer.”
South Africa have managed to score only 269, 118 and 179 runs in their 3 innings till now and the main reason for that has been the performance of both Chahal and Kuldeep. The pair has picked up a combined total of 23 wickets in the series till now and to be fair there hasn’t been a single over where the South Africans have looked comfortable facing them.
Both Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav have managed to cement their places in the shorter format, with players like R Ashwin and R Jadeja pushed to the sidelines. Graeme Smith believes that even though there were some inexperienced heads in the middle-order, South Africa still had players like JP Duminy and David Miller in their XI, both of whom have played a lot cricket in India facing spin bowling.
“They haven’t simply batted well enough. There wasn’t may be enough experience in the middle-order but still there was JP Duminy and David Miller who have played a lot of international cricket and quality spin bowling in the IPL. But these are two exciting wrist-spinners, who controlled every game. South Africa simply have not yet found out a way to progress in those middle overs where they (Chahal-Kuldeep) have taken control of the game. That’s why India dominated,” explained Graeme Smith.
Apart from the ODI series, Graeme Smith is of the opinion that India could have come away from the test series with a better result had they not made error in selecting their playing XI and leaving impact players like Ajinkya Rahane.
“I would look at India’s team selection. Ajinkya Rahane should have played from start. India needed to play with an extra batter and the extra bowler they played was not required. Centurion was a very flat deck and India would be disappointed that they lost that Test series,” concluded Graeme Smith.