Gibson reserves special praise for SA batsmen in bowler-dominated series



Faf du Plessis was one of the only two centurions in the three-Test series against Pakistan © Getty

Despite South Africa’s 3-0 win over Pakistan largely coming at the back of a superior bowling display, South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson reserved special praise for the application of his batsmen.

In what was a low-scoring series with the 300-run mark breached only twice in 12 innings and only two centuries were cracked – by Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock. However, South Africa’s head coach believes in what were ‘tough batting conditions’, the odd fifties also proved quite handy.

As bad as people have said the wickets have been, we got two quality hundreds and quite a few fifties,” Gibson said on Monday (January 14). “Temba Bavuma was outstanding in this series. He never got a hundred, but the job that he did. Hashim in both innings in this match, and especially on the third day, we could easily have been bowled out but for the way Hashim played. And then Quinny scored a brilliant hundred as well.

“I keep saying to the batters ‘when the wickets are like this, you don’t need to score 500’. If we get 260 too in the first innings, with our four fast bowlers on a fast bouncy track that’s a great score, because we know that we can knock a team over for under that, which we did. It’s been tough for the batters.

“They might complain outside the dressing room, but inside the dressing room none of the batters are complaining about the pitches. We’re just getting stuck in and trying to get as many runs as we can get to give our bowlers the chance to operate.”

Even as the senior players stood up to the challenge, the younger batsmen like Theunis de Bruyn and Zubayr Hamza couldn’t impress as well. While de Bruyn managed to touch a highest of 49, Hamza registered scores of 41 and 0 in his two innings. However, Dean Elgar, who stood in as the captain for Faf du Plessis in the third Test, isn’t too bothered by their lack of contribution and believes its a part of grooming them for the future rather than being dependent on them at the moment.

“The guys are quite new,” Elgar said. “Theunis is inexperienced at this level, and Hamza came in on his Test debut, and that’s always going to be tough. The pressure and intensity that you face at Test level is going to be higher than what you’re used to at domestic level.

“You’ve got to have a few inexperienced guys around because they’ve got to take the game forward in a few years’ time. So, it’s important that we carry those guys around. They need to play, that’s the only way you get experience. Unfortunately, you do have to go through a few failures in your career, but it’s about how you bounce back from those failures going forward.”

Even as South Africa’s batsmen clearly overshadowed their Pakistani counterparts despite not scoring big, it was in the bowling department where the gap widened between the two sides. Duanne Olivier, the newest pacer in the ranks. impressed the most, bagging 25 wickets in the series.

“We did exactly what we set out to do,” Gibson said. “We wanted to play four fast bowlers, and the way we played, the pitches suited four fast bowlers. The four fast bowlers did a fantastic job.”

However in praising the pacers for exploiting the conditions to their best, Elgar believed that South Africa continue with such pitches for their homes games, the batsmen will have to learn to ‘grit it out’ better.

“There’s definitely going to be a sensitivity around that,” Elgar said. “I wouldn’t say the days of averaging 45 plus are gone. There’s still room for that and your best batters will reach those goals. But it’s always going to be a challenge, and you won’t be as free flowing on the wickets we’re playing on. A bit more hard kind of cricket. Gritting it out. Free scoring, you’ve got put that aside until you get in. It’s going to be hard work for the batters. We’re going to have hard times obviously, but you’ve got to adapt.

“We’ve got no choice. Our strength is our bowlers, and we’ve got to use what we have. That’s our arsenal. I sit here as a batter, and I’ve also got to fight through that. You’re going to get a good ball with your name on it when you’re playing on wickets like this, which is tough. A lot of guys might get down on that, because you want to do well. That’s why we play this game. But failure is always going to happen in this game, and with the wickets we’re playing on, it’s always going to be tough for us.”

The opener added that scoring more hundreds in the coming series will be the goal irrespective of the conditions. Gibson summed it the new phase better – “We will certainly continue to play this brand of cricket, because it is successful, and ultimately that’s what we want to be,” Gibson said. “We want to be successful, and if it’s working for us then we’ll continue this trend.”

© Cricbuzz


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