The Proteas have set aside two days to lick their wounds and do introspection after their embarrassing defeat by an innings and 276 runs in two and half days in the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch that lasted just seven sessions from Thursday to Saturday.
The Black Caps batted once as they battered and bruised the Proteas at Hagley Oval.
SA were blown away for 95 in the first innings after they lost the toss and, put in to bat, folded for 111 in response to New Zealand’s first innings total of 482 as the Proteas dished out their second worst performance in their storied Test history.
Batting coach Justin Sammons hopes the team comes out of the down time with renewed energy when they regroup to start preparations for the second Test which starts at the same venue on Friday.
“Everybody is very disappointed but we have got two days off for the guys to do a little bit of self reflection and as coaches we will do the same,” said Sammons on Sunday from Christchurch.
“Hopefully we will come with good energies and good attitudes when we meet up and wanting to turn things about.”
Though SA travelled to New Zealand high on confidence after they came from behind to defeat India 2-1 in a three-match Test series last month, they were rescued by Keegan Petersen’s heroics.
Their batting deficiencies are well documented and have more often than not been masked by brilliant performances home and away from the bowling unit.
The team was again hamstrung by the batting deficiencies during the first Test against the Kiwis and like captain Dean Elgar and head coach Mark Boucher, Sammons could not put a finger on most of what went wrong but offered no excuses.
“We didn’t pitch up and we were not good enough,” Sammons said.
“It is as simple as that. They out-skilled us at the end of the day and that is what it boils down to.”
At face value the Proteas Test unit is seemingly on an upward trajectory, having defeated Sri Lanka at home and the West Indies away and now India, to go with series defeats in Pakistan and England at home since December 2019, but they have only scored 300 once in their last eight Test matches in the past year.
Sammons said three bad days of cricket do not make them a bad team overnight.
“It is only one Test match. We have come off a great few months and I think we need to reference that as much as we can, the language that we speak is important.
“It was three bad days and it does not mean that all of a sudden we are a bad team and the players are not good enough.
“We need to reference the experiences that we have had in the last few months where we have done well,” said the batting consultant who joined the Proteas team management ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka and the Twenty20 World Cup in the UAE last year.
Sammons said the strip for the first Test was a “good cricket wicket” and that there are lessons the team will learn from their hosts, who hardly put a foot wrong.
“I just think that for whatever reason we were not able to cope with their best balls from a defensive point of view as well as decision making and we didn’t know which balls to leave and which ones to play.
“So there are lessons to be taken in terms of the way the wicket played and the way they bowled.
“We have to have the ability to stick to our game plans and have freedom within those plans.
“The guys will take some lessons from this Test match and hopefully come back and fight back to draw the series.”