In 2018 – South Africa saw some high points along with few significant lows, amid all these AB Devilliers and Morne Morkel have retired as Ottis Gibson have completed a successful year as coach. However, 2019 seem to pose many questions for the team as many seniors are on a decline
South Africa’s year ended on the same note as it has started with a win on a difficult pitch at home against a subcontinental side. Since losing to England in 2015 Faf Du Plessis’s men have followed the pattern which some of the other countries have adapted to succeed at home, to make pitches which suits their strength. India did it, England has done it so as Sri Lanka in recent times. The results have been much better, and the captain has identified the formula to success and has decided to stick with it.
South Africa won the series against India by 2-1 then against Australia by 3-1 and is now leading the series against Pakistan by 1-0. Playing on difficult wickets against some of the best bowlers in the world South African batsmen did well however it’s their pace arsenal which ended the year as no. 1 in terms of stats which helped them have an impressive record of 6 wins -2 losses out of 8 tests at home. However, as the lopsided formula does a massive success at home might not be the guarantee to succeed outside the country. South Africa lost the series in Sri Lanka by 2-0.W hile Sri Lanka have been a tough place for touring teams but way Sri Lanka have been struggling in recent years ( especially losing to India and England by 3-0 each), the win proved to be a dent in South Africa’s success. They ended the year with 6 wins and 4 losses with 60% success in Test Cricket.
In One day Internationals, they have very tough times especially against India at home where nobody had thought that team would lose by a massive margin of 5-1. While the win in Sri Lanka and Australia have largely covered the grey areas in the limited overs side yet for a team like South Africa, a win percentage of only 52.94 is quite a low and concerning as the world cup is just 5 months away. In T-20 there was nothing to boast apart from the only victory over Australia as 2 out of their 4 wins have come against Zimbabwe at home.
The year also saw South Africa bid farewell to two outstanding cricketers. AB de Devilliers rated as one of the finest batsmen of his generation and one of the finest to have played for his country bid adieu the game after the series against South Africa. Devilliers was the part of highly successful South Africa team from 2006-2015 which won in England, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan (UAE) and drew with India twice. The hole that he had left behind (with over 20000 International runs) will be hard to fill. Morne Morkel, his teammate during the era and in some of the most memorable wins, also retired after South African series in order to settle in the United Kingdom. He ended with almost 550 International wickets becoming one of the most successful fast bowlers of all time to have represented South Africa
What will 2019 hold: After the series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka the team will proceed for World Cup in England in summer of 2019. The year will end with tough assignments against India and England. The success in these series will ensure that South Africa stays at the top of the ladder by the end of the home series against England in February 2020.
Challenges ahead: The biggest challenge that South Africa currently faces is a smooth transition. After AB Devilliers and Morne Morkel players like Hashim Amla, Faf Du Plessis, Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn might retire in a year or two. This makes the duty of captain and administration to ensure that there is a smooth transition and they follow India, England and New Zealand rather than Sri Lanka, Australia or Pakistan who’s fortune have declined after the seniors retired.