3 years ago, people would recognise South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies as three of the top 6 teams in the world. Now, South Africa are still the number 1 test team in the World, but not the best team in the World, Sri Lanka as a very average team, and the West Indies a lost cause.
Each team is struggling to win a test match, and are all playing some pretty poor cricket as a whole, which is representative of their poor form.
South Africa last won a test match in January 2015. They have only played against India since, in a 4 match series, but are currently playing against England, in which they lost the first test match. They were outplayed by India where they lost 3-0. Their current number 1 ranking in the World position is in jeopardy after a run of poor performances have seen them drop a lot of points.
They have really struggled to adapt after losing two of their key players in Graeme Smith and Jaques Kallis. They have not found a consistent opener to replace Smith and the team has been switched around many a time. They also currently do not have an all-rounder in the squad to replace Kallis, which is almost as key as having a left arm seamer.
This would give them a lot more flexibility, as they would then have the option to play another batsman to enable their line up to bat deep, which it currently does not offer, and are being skittled cheaply at the tail. Only AB de Villiers has averaged above 30 for them this year in Test cricket, and even worse Hashim Amla’s captaincy is under pressure, as it is clearly affecting his performances with the bat.
At the heart of South Africa’s recent demise, was the fact that they had no obvious replacements for their retiring legends. This means they had to bring players in, without much experience, meaning it’s a lot harder for them to adapt to the Test arena. This has led to inconsistent performances form new players, as they know that they are under pressure, not giving them much confidence to play their natural cricket, and show off their ability. The whole South Africa team looks nervy when batting, and nobody steps up when de Villiers can’t provide.
They play with fear. The selectors should be changed, and so should the managing director, as affairs have not been handled well in the last year. Then South Africa could rebuild a solid side, and show their real class that everyone knows they have.
Sri Lanka’s last test victory came against the West Indies in October in fact, which does not come as a hard feat at the moment. That was one of only three test wins in 2015, which could possibly be described as one of their worst years ever. Much like South Africa, they have struggled to cope after losing two key players, who again are two modern greats of the game. Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara retires one year after each other, and Sri Lanka have struggled to replace them effectively. It is hard to replace two players of such calibre, but it should be easier than South Africa and Sri Lanka have made it. Sri Lanka do not have an effective Youth setup or domestic format, meaning developing young players wanting to gain experience at a better level, have to look elsewhere abroad for opportunities to help gain experience. This also means that the players that do come through look so out of depth, that they cannot deliver. Their coaching system is also poor, meaning it’s hard to get the best out of the players that are representing the country.
They have avery poor bowling line up to add to that, it looks very weak and inexperienced, compared to many others teams. They have not been able to produce a half decent spinner, let alone an amazing one to start in Murali’s footsteps. Rangana Herath is a very good spinner, don’t get me wrong, but he hasn’t been produced from a setup, and at the age of 37, I won’t be surprised to see him retiring soon.
So the future doesn’t look good for Sri Lanka, let alone currently. They should stick with their team they currently have, Lahiru Thirrimanne and Angelo Matthews are very good players, and should be played in their right positions, 2 and 5 respectively. As Thirrimanne is batting at number 3 and becoming unsettled. They should let players settle and gain experience, as it’s the only way that they will come good in the future.
West Indies’ last test win came in May, where they came up against a troubled England team at the time. That was their only test win of 2015. Fair enough, west Indies have had trouble with their cricket board, and the corruption involved, but there is no need to carry that negativity out onto the pitch. The players go out with the wrong attitude, and never give the opposition any challenge.
Players such as Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo will need to be re introduced to that team, to help give the younger players some more experience, and players that can give them more ambition and fight during games. They will also give the Winidies more chance of winning games, and that’s very much what they need right now.
Currently sitting 8th in the test ranking, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drop below Bangladesh soon. Darren Bravo and Kraigg Brathwaite are their only two players who are playing well, but are not backed up well by the team. It seems that the whole team can’t play as a unit, and only one player can perform at once. They have a very below average bowling attack, which has no threat to any test batting lineup.
We saw Australia dominate them, as four of their players hit centuries, proving how bad it is. It’s almost as if the team perform in a protest against the corrupted governing board. However, at times against Australia, the team did show signs go hope and encouragement for the future, when hey play with the right attitude.
However, they seem as if they don’t have the ability to perform over 5 days, which is simply not a good enough standard for a test team. They seem to be promoting their white ball game, and with the new Caribbean premier league introduced recently, there is definitely promise for the limited overs side of the game. This could help develop players into test cricketers, if they can break into ODI cricket too. There is still a massive rebuilding job, but with the right attitude there is hope for them.
All these teams are very much troubled at the moment, hopefully they can pull through these tough times, and give their fans something to cheer about.