Talk about testing times.
Things aren’t looking good in the Proteas camp ahead of their Test series against England.
With the first of four five-dayers starting next Thursday, things are taking on a bit of a nightmarish vibe.
Like having one of those bad dreams when you rock up for an exam without studying and then finding you are there sonder ’n onnie AND it’s cold, the Proteas are feeling exposed.
The squad is without captain Faf du Plessis, coach Russell Domingo and star batsman AB de Villiers.
Faf is back in SA waiting for his wife to give birth. Domingo is also home, nursing his mother who was recently in a car accident.
And then you have AB, who has taken a “sabbatical”.
More on AB later.
On top of all of that, the South Africans have only won three of their nine games in the UK and confidence is low.
England will feel the tourists are there for the taking.
It’s time for this team, left to their own devices, to man up.
Before the Proteas left here, there was a real buzz.
Even without AB, the injured Dale Steyn and the Kolpak runaways.
But the players have yet to step up.
Could it be the uncertainty around the coach’s future? Who knows.
Still, it’s the players who will have to do the batting and the bowling.
And at the moment, they aren’t doing the best job of it.
Batting is going to be the biggest problem.
Without Faf and AB there, the pressure is all on Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock.
Dean Elgar has made a huge step in the right direction lately since taking the opening role.
But the fear is there that he may not be able to handle the massive responsibility of potentially leading the side in the opening Test at Lord’s.
New boys such as Theunis de Bruyn and Heino Kuhn have their own points to prove and will be targeted by the Poms.
Then we need our bowlers to stiek uit too.
They haven’t looked up to scratch during their time in England.
Kagiso Rabada needs all the help he can get from Morne Morkel if Vernon Philander can’t hold his body together because the back-up in Andile Phehlukwayo and Duanne Olivier can’t be the main manne with the inconsistency they have shown.
Which brings us back to AB. What’s he going say to Cricket SA now about his future?
Didn’t he already say that he will be back for the India series - seeing that Mumbai Rubber Factory are mos paying him R10m a year.
Has AB been captured? Vra maar net.