South Africa’s batting, over the last few years, has shown a remarkable decline. The Proteas have tended to depend on a lot on individuals- most notably AB De Villiers and Hashim Amla, but with the former now retired and the latter declining with age, South Africa’s batting doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was.
Dale Benkenstein took over as Proteas batting coach from Neil McKenzie late last year, and while it would be unfair to pin their batting woes on him alone, the stats don’t make for good reading. Is it poor coaching, or simply a decline in the quality of batsmen coming through the system?
His interview during the recently concluded Sri Lanka vs South Africa series was worrying if you were a Proteas supporter, indicating that his batsmen had no clue against wrist spin, and were essentially playing aggressive shots and the sweep, and hoping for luck to favour them.
South Africa batting stats & figures under Dale Benkenstein
In test cricket:-
Batting average since readmission:- 36.31
Batting average under Benkenstein:- 26.60 (10 tests)
That 26.60 figure drops to 23 vs India and 15.32 vs Sri Lanka, and would probably look worse without AB De Villiers’ contribution before he retired (53.15 average from 8 tests)
In ODI cricket
Batting average per wicket since readmission:- 35.50
Batting average under Benkenstein:- 25.45 (Played 11, Won 4, Lost 7)
In T20 cricket
Batting average normally is 27.04, but drops to 21.62 under Benkenstein
South Africa also don’t seem to be producing too many world-class batsmen recently- the last two were AB and Amla, both born around 1983-84. Dean Elgar (1987) has managed to establish himself in the test side, but nobody would tout him to be world class.
There’s been some buzz over Aiden Markram (born 1994), who looks a million dollars against pace, but at all sea at spin, and Theunis de Bruyn (born 1992), but neither are the finished product (yet). Quinton de Kock showed great promise at the beginning of his career, but hasn’t achieved the consistency of the likes of say, Root, Kohli or Williamson.
Should South Africa look for a better batting coach?