South Africa’s batting nightmares continue

South Africa captain Dean Elgar promised a better showing at the MCG but the Proteas’ stunning decline with the bat has continued.

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 the likes of legends AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis and taking their places are batters with minimal international experience.

South Africa have failed to reach 200 in their past six completed red-ball innings and could make it seven after losing 3-2 to crash to 4-58 at lunch on day one of the Boxing Day Test.

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

It follows a calamitous first Test on a green wicket at the Gabba when Australia rolled the Proteas for 152 and 99 and the match was over inside two days.

South Africa’s second innings total of 99 last week marked 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.

Signifying the fragility in their top-order was Australia captain Pat Cummins’s decision to send South Africa in to bat for the second-straight Test after winning the toss.

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.

“It was just about giving the guys a little more clarity and clearing the mind, going into the next one.”

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