South Africa’s batting nightmares continue

Going back to the drawing board has yielded no improvement for South Africa’s top order.

After collapsing to 5-67, the tourists rallied before being blasted out for 189 at the MCG on Boxing Day – their seventh-straight Test innings under 200.

Captain Dean Elgar had promised a better showing, saying they went back to the drawing board after losing the first Test in less than two days on the Gabba green top.

But whatever work they did between Brisbane and Melbourne did not pay dividends.

Once boasting arguably the most feared batting line-up in world cricket, South Africa’s current top-order is unrecognisable to the ones that claimed three consecutive Test series wins on Australian soil.

Gone are legends such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis and taking their places are batters with minimal international experience.

They lost 3-2 to be 4-58 at lunch on day one of the second Test after losing the toss.

Elgar was run-out for the first time in his Test career after a horrendous mix-up and No.3 Theunis de Bruyn, who was promoted into the team for this match, was out for 12 after badly mistiming a pull shot.

While No.7 Marco Jansen (52) was dropped three times, at least he and No.6 Kyle Verreynne (59) dug in with their sixth-wicket stand of 112.

But once Verryenne was dismissed, it triggered another collapse where they lost their last four wickets inside four overs.

It follows a calamitous first Test in Brisbane when Australia rolled the Proteas for 152 and 99.

That was the second time they had been bowled out for less than 100 in 2022.

The last time they were all-out for less than 100 twice in the same calendar year was in 1957.

Elgar has made 80 Test appearances, No.4 Temba Bavuma 52, but the other four in the top-six have a combined tally of just 35.

The last time South Africa toured Australia in 2016-17, the Proteas’ line-up included Amla, du Plessis and JP Duminy, who made 44 Test hundreds between them.

Powerful opener Aiden Markram, whose Test average is better than four of the current top-six, missed out on selection for this series after being dropped during the Proteas’ August tour of England.

Dashing wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock announced his shock retirement from Test cricket, aged 29, in December 2021, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

Elgar was resolute following the collapse in Brisbane, arguing the Gabba pitch contributed greatly to that poor showing with the bat.

“Going back to the drawing board, that was the biggest thing for us and trying to simplify things, make guys aware of certain things that they’d maybe forgotten about,” Elgar said in his pre-match press conference at the MCG.

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