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Proteas have some pressing issues to sort out in Port Elizabeth

Independent Online (IOL) logo Independent Online (IOL) 6 days ago Zaahier Adams
a cricket player during a game: South Africa face questions aplenty after suffering their first-ever defeat in the marquee Test of the summer. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix © Provided by Independent Media South Africa face questions aplenty after suffering their first-ever defeat in the marquee Test of the summer. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – The Proteas have arrived in Port Elizabeth to begin their preparations for the third Test against England at St George’s Park, starting on Thursday.

They will be in a strange space though.

It is not the familiar happy feeling of having spent the festive period in Cape Town with friends and family before picking up a routine victory in the New Year’s Test to boost the morale.

Instead, they face questions aplenty after suffering their first-ever defeat in the marquee Test of the summer since returning from isolation.

So, instead of basking in confidence and form, there are issues all round that need to be rectified over the course of the week if they are to put their noses in front of what is proving to be a highly-competitive series.

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The most contentious issue is, of course, the form - or lack thereof - of skipper Faf du Plessis.

The fact that Du Plessis’ leadership ability is being questioned in some parts is ludicrous.

Frankly, the Proteas should regard themselves very fortunate to still be led by one of South Africa’s finest captains ever, and that list includes Graeme Smith and Hansie Cronje.

But if its statistics that allows Du Plessis to dine at the top of the captain’s table, he will know that his batting numbers over the past 12 months are not equally impressive.

In fact, they are hanging over the Proteas captain like a dark cloud. It is 13 innings without a century and seven since he last passed fifty.

For a captain that prides himself on leading by example and knowing that’s its hundreds that win Test matches, this record will not sit well with Du Plessis.

It’s no coincidence that he always includes himself when speaking about the fact that the Proteas batting unit needs to improve to put the team in a better position. That everything can’t always be left to the bowlers.

Du Plessis will have a stern chat to his bowling unit this week though.

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