Win against India a stepping stone for Proteas

Johannesburg – The Proteas are slowly but surely reclaiming back the glory days of #ProteasFire, after charging to a stunning comeback to the Test series after thrashing the world’s best, India, in the hard-fought Test series by seven wickets in a row.

They pulled off a stunning victory by battering the world’s best, India by seven wickets in the third and the final Test to claim the series, 2-1 at New Land on Friday.

The Proteas stunned the ‘whipping boys of world cricket’ to clinch their first home wins with a back-to-back in a historical victory occasion.

Coming to this final Test, was not an easy task for Marc Boucher’s lads, as they needed 111 runs to seal the Test series, a new bond of Keegan Petersen and Rassie van der Dussen offloaded a burden with a stellar 54-run partnership.

For most people, this new bond of Petersen and van der Dussen has been compared similarly with former Proteas batsmen and legends, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla.

Marc Boucher, who came in as head coach of South Africa in 2019, the Proteas had gravitated towards a forwards-oriented and kick-heavy style of play.

It is no doubt that things were difficult for the Proteas over the past two years were, the national team, even downgraded to number six of the International Cricket Council’s world rankings.

Plagued with several setbacks, such as the retirement of former cricketers such as Quinton de Kock and Faf Du Plessis and the SJN report that headlined news last year in December, claiming appointments of Boucher, Smith were flawed.

Last year in 2021, the Proteas failed to reach the semi-finals of T20 World Cup, this downfall can be attributed to the founding of the SJN report claimed that both the CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith and Proteas coach Marc Boucher instigated the racial discrimination and lack of transformation in all cricket structures.

The 235-page SJN report found that the duo was involved in racial prejudice.

Boucher, himself, was implicated in the recently-completed Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings for his role in the discrimination former Proteas spinner Paul Adams endured during his playing days.

Sunday World engaged with former Proteas cricketers such as Yusuf Abdulla and Mfuneko Ngam, to unpack the historical victory of the Proteas and to reflect challenges that beset the national team.

The former fast-bowler Abdula said that he personally believes that the last two years were a build-up session for the Proteas to climb to the top.

“Personally, I believe it was a matter of time before things start going our way. To be fair the last two years was a building phase for the proteas and with the new faces it definitely does take time to adjust to the level,” he said.

Unpacking recent scandals ranging at the Proteas and ill-statements from the former Indian captain Virat Kohli, Abdulla said: “A lot has been said about the Proteas and how we haven’t done well, but to be honest this just shows the quality of cricket South Africa has. The Proteas must now conquer new challenges to launch their new form of style to easily transcend to the next level.”

Speaking of all three Test matches, Mfuneko Ngam said looking at the current squad is a bunch of good players that have been doing well.

“Guys like Petersen are doing well since he got a call-up and has been a fundamental young key player for the Proteas.

“He and he with Kagiso Rabada and Themba Bavuma have been doing well.

“I have to give it to Marc Boucher who received several critics, he stood up strongly against all these condemnations to build a new squad and he delivered well,” said Ngam.

Mfuneko, also touched that current developments at the Proteas couldn’t be blamed for its up and down performance, as the team is still in the restructuring phase to rebuild the strongest squad.

“From what I discovered, the technical team is working hard to rebuild the squad behind the scenes, and they always go to the drawing board to work on their errors, the Proteas have proven with the current style of play that they are gearing up to climb the ladder and be the best.

“People have come out to say the likes of the leader Temba Bavuma is not doing well and not belonging there, that’s not true, one at some point have the in-form and out-form, it all goes with a moral support for our players,” he said.

Ngam admitted that the Proteas had it tough over the past years, and he said it came as a shock for the Proteas to come out following their first loss to thrash India twice, marking their first win in the home soil.

The Proteas will now have to prove their dominance in the upcoming ODI on Wednesday, where they will clash with India.

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