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Proteas face tough time ahead

The weather played its part and saved the Proteas from a likely defeat at the hands of the Black Caps during the last test match in Hamilton. Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock could have saved the game for South Africa but they had an awful lot to do on the final day of the test, had rained not intervened.

I enjoyed the frank interview Faf du Plessis gave after the final test. He was very honest in summing up the performance of his team during the series. In his view the Proteas were below par during the three test matches. He referred in particular to a lack of consistency in the top order.

The other concern was the fact that during the series Vernon Philander only got two wickets. This has never happened before in a three-match series. I am a big fan of big Vern and he has been brilliant for the Proteas over the last few years.

His pace has dropped off a fraction. He is at his best when he bowls around the132 kilometre mark. Over recent times he has battled to get up to 130. The slight lack of pace gives the batsman just enough time to adjust to the movement that he gets.

One can't fault his line and his length. He is still deadly accurate and keeps the pressure on the batsman. He will however have to address the pace issue. There is nothing different regarding his action. What he probably needs is two months of fitness training to get his strength up before the England tour.

He is joining Sussex for a while as an overseas player in the early part of the English season. Unfortunately, this means more bowling, which may not be the answer right now. A break from bowling and a strength and conditioning window for a few weeks would have been a good plan for him.

The other impressive thing during the series was the spirit in which the matches were played. The cricket was competitive and hard as test matches should be but there was none of the poor behaviour we saw in the test series between India and Australia. Both Faf du Plessis and Kain Williamson made sure that the game was played in the right spirit.

The next assignment for the Proteas is a demanding one. They first play England in three one-day internationals and then they go straight into the champions trophy. After that there are a couple of T20 matches against England and then the big one, which is a four-match test series.

There is no question that the Proteas will have to be on top of their game over a long period to prosper on what will be an arduous tour. It was enough to beat the Kiwis here at a canter but that won't do the trick in either the champions trophy or the test series over there.

Still no-one can fault the team for their performance since last November when they beat Australia, Sri Lanka and now the Kiwis. It was a job well done.

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