The great fight back by the Proteas in the second test at Newlands gave supporters a lot of hope for the remaining matches.
Time at the crease were sorely needed after the debacle in India, and all the top batsmen got their fair share, with the exception of Quinton de Kock, but he had enough exposure in the local series.
The bowlers also came back very well in the English second innings, and with Dale Steyn unlikely to play in the third match, the confidence they regained should stand them in good stead for the remaining two matches.
Many commentators forget that the South African side is notorious for starting poorly in test cricket, and the first test was no exception. Having to win the last two matches to take the series is no foreign territory for Proteas – they can do it again.
While we always excel at the Wanderers, let’s not forget that the English bowling line-up is equally formidable. Broad is currently third on the ICC rankings, and Anderson fifth. Both the Protea bowlers in the top ten, Steyn and Philander, are unlikely to play, so there will be a huge responsibility on the current incumbents to perform.
Root is the only English batsman in the top ten, but they have a number of new emerging stars who are hungry for higher honours. With AB third and Hashim seventh, it appears that we have the edge here. The only concern is Dean Elgar’s opening partner. Stian van Zyl’s run out was a cruel trick of fate on a pitch where he would have had the opportunity to show why he was considered good enough.
As regards test teams, South Africa retained the top spot, with England in sixth place. Let’s hold thumbs that this is reflected in the next two results.
The shock resignation of Amla as captain may just work in favour of the team. After finally showing his class with the bat again, nearly a year after his last century, we can look forward to him showing why he earned the nickname “the Rock” in the past.
Temba Bavuma’s ton was a historical milestone for a number of reasons, as cited in the press. For me, the most important aspect of this is the impact he will have as a role model for many other aspiring black cricketers. Add to this the potential of young Kagiso Rabada, and it seems we are well on our way towards a truly representative side, picked on merit.
A highlight for me during the wonderful partnership between Chris Morris and Temba Bavuma, apart from the many runs they scored, was their chats between overs. It may just as well have been Simon and Garfunkel at the concert in Central Park, laying a bridge over troubled waters.