It is amazing how much South Africa has slipped over the last few years. When they toured England, it was supposed to be an acid test for Vaughan and people were proclaiming Smith as the new Cronje - some one who was always groomed to be captain and would be a great captain for many years to come. When that series ended, Vaughan came out strong and Smith looked the way poorer captain. England went from strength to strength while South Africa went in just the opposite direction from there on.
South Africa has slipped further in tests specifically with each passing year. From the top two team they have gone to the middle rung and there is the danger of slipping even below India and/or Pakistan if they do not improve in the near future.
So what has gone wrong? For one, replacing Pollock as captain was a big set back. It changed all kinds of equations in the team. Regardless of how players are performing in the recent past, slagging them off in the media like Smith slagged off Klusener is not very wise. Smith has been a poor captain over all.
The batting has lacked experience and adaptability to play in the subcontinent at times but more crucially, the bowling has gone down drastically which plays a crucial role in whether you win tests or not in the end. Filling Donald's boots is not the easiest thing to do. Pollock hasn't been the force he once was, Kallis hasn't taken enough wickets and Cronje isn't there to fill in when Kallis has a bad day in the office. Neither are either of McMillan or Klusener there showing the lack of options not having quality all rounders exposes.
The strength of RSA in the Cronje era was getting more out of the sum than the individual parts. The disappointing part of the Smith era has been getting less than the individual parts. However, the side is young and the bowlers like Ntini and Nel have been developing well and I expect them to do better than they have in the recent past. To make a great or very good side though, you need an assimilation of immense talent or good talent plus great leadership. Do not expect South Africa to keep on under performing though it will take some effort to get them to over perform as well.
Last edited by Pratters; 15-10-2006 at 10:22 AM.